Emotional night in Gampel leads to ejection, Louisville win over UConn

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Kevin Ollie was ejected midway through the second half for his tirade. (USATSI)
Kevin Ollie was ejected midway through the second half for his tirade. (USATSI)

STORRS, Conn. -- We've never seen Kevin Ollie like this.

That explosion midway through the second half of UConn's 76-64 loss to Louisville that earned the irate, emotional, fiery Ollie back-to-back technical fouls and a trip to the team locker room, well it had to be enough to make Jim Calhoun -- who was in Gampel Pavilion Saturday night -- blush.

It was the first ejection for a UConn coach since Calhoun was tossed back in December of 2007. Ryan Boatright, who was playing with a heavy heart, was the one pulling away his head coach from mouthing off even more to official Mike Stuart, who administered both Ts.

"I respected it. I was glad that he had our back," Boatright said of Ollie's mid-game exodus. "He fought for us. Some of those calls were ridiculous, and the one he got kicked out for was an obvious foul. It was crazy that they didn't call it."

Afterward, Stuart delivered this statement on his reasoning for ejecting Ollie: "Two unsportsmanlike class A technical fouls. The first one was reacting to running down the sideline. The second one was coming on the floor to protest the call."

Stuart opted not to comment on the play that spurred Ollie's tantrum. If you missed it, here's the sequence that led to the eviction, triggered by a no-call against Wayne Blackshear, who made contact with Niels Giffey.

Afterward, Ollie said the ejection was a case of lost composure. He preaches to his team about remaining composed, and although he didn't apologize in the press conference for getting the hook, he did say he thought it was a foul.

"Niels was hit in the shoulder or the arm, wherever he got hit," Ollie said. "Shabazz did the same thing later on, and they called that a foul."

At the time of Ollie's ejection UConn had already tallied six second-half fouls; the absence of a whistle in the Blackshear-Giffey play was clearly what culminated Ollie's breakdown.

"Our aggressiveness wasn't there in the beginning," Ollie said. “We kind of settled. ... We've got to play with emotion."

Louisville scored 40 points in the paint, led by Montrezl Harell, who went for 18, had 13 boards and swatted three shots. The Cardinals were very aggressive and looked to attack the interior at all costs. It was a strategy that paid off. UConn is an erratic shooting team, and when you pair that with a vulnerable interior defense, it can pay big dividens for opponents that have the components to exploit the Huskies' soft spots. The Cardinals did.

“It's not like they have Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar," Ollie did say.

Well, no, but all in all it was a really good night for Louisville. The Cardinals got their first really nice win of the season -- and also their fourth road win of 2013-14. That's probably what's lost amid the Ollie fiasco and the runaway nature of the victory.

"This was a great atmosphere," Cards coach Rick Pitino said. "I've been to Connecticut many, many times and this is the best atmosphere I've seen at this place."

Statement win? Sure. Tough spot and a no-doubt-about-it W. But Pitino's team still has a lot of work to do, but on the heels of UConn going into Memphis and getting a win, it's looking like the AAC will give us the four-team race the league didn't expect to have at the start of the season.

Louisville, Memphis, Cincinnati and Connecticut look to be the four strongest teams. But Cinci is still without a loss in league play, and UConn is now 2-3 in the American. The race is going to be a slow boil, it seems. And thanks to round-robin play in the AAC, this chase could and should go right into the first week of March.

(Video via College Spun)

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