LEXINGTON, Ky. — A spectator was escorted from Rupp Arena during the first half of Kentucky’s loss to South Carolina on Tuesday night after holding up a sign that said “Please go to Texas,” referring to speculation about Wildcats coach John Calipari being a candidate to coach the Longhorns.
The unidentified man in the lower bowl held up the sign for several minutes before arena security arrived following complaints from other fans. Kentucky basketball spokesman Deb Moore said afterward the man was given the choice of putting the sign away but refused and chose to leave.
Kentucky (10-6, 1-3 Southeastern Conference) lost its second consecutive game and had its 28-game home winning streak stopped by the Gamecocks. The Wildcats could miss the NCAA tournament without a turnaround, and Calipari has been criticized on social media.
The Wildcats were coming off a 78-52 loss at No. 4 Alabama and have lost to Michigan State, Gonzaga, UCLA and Missouri by double digits after starting the season ranked No. 4 in the AP Top 25. On Tuesday night, the Wildcats never led but rallied within 69-68 before missing several attempts to tie the game in the final seconds.
The Longhorns fired Chris Beard on Jan. 5 after he was charged in December with felony domestic violence for an incident involving his fiancée.
Calipari, a Hall of Famer, said on his weekly radio show Monday night he hasn’t spoken to Texas, adding that he remains focused on Kentucky. He said after the game he understands the fans’ frustration.
“If you want to get on me, that’s fine,” Calipari said. “I’m the coach. If we weren’t ready to play, then I’ve got to look at me and say, well, what, why, where were we mentally.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.