Sean Miller

Refs blew call that cost Colorado win at Arizona, but not how you think


For the second time this week, the refs blew a call that could have cost a road team a basket in crunch time.

On Tuesday night, the crew working UConn’s visit to Marquette allowed the teams to start overtime going in the wrong direction. When a Shabazz Napier layup was goaltended by Jamil Wilson, they said that the call was an inadvertent whistle — you can’t goaltend on your own basket — when the NCAA rulebook clearly states that the basket should have counted.

The missed call in No. 3 Arizona’s 92-83 win over Colorado in overtime was much, much more important, however; a three-pointer that Sabatino Chen hit at the end of regulation with the score tied at 80 should have counted.

But it’s not for the reason you think.

First things first: here is the rule pertaining to a situation like this. It’s Rule 5, Section 7, Article 2a:

In games with a 10th-of-a-second game clock display and where an official courtside monitor is used, the reading of zeros on the game clock is to be used to determine whether a try for goal occurred before or after the expiration of time in any period. When the game clock is not visible, the officials shall verify the original call with the use of the red/LED light(s). When the red/LED light(s) are not visible, the sounding of the game-clock horn shall be utilized. When definitive information is unattainable with the use of the monitor, the original call stands.

Watch the video. Look at the two pictures embedded here. What do you think? Does Chen get the ball off before the clock above the back board (and not the one in the bottom-right hand corner) goes to triple-zeroes?

Take away any rooting bias you may have here. There’s no way to irrefutably determine whether or not that ball is not on his fingertips when the clock hits triple-zeroes. The image is just too blurry.

Let’s go to the last sentence of that rule, then: “When definitive information is unattainable with the use of the monitor, the original call stands.”

If you look at the bottom of the screen, there is one official that signals a made three. Here’s the screen-grab evidence, via our own Terrence Payne (here’s a look at a full-screen shot of the ref signalling the made three):


So a ref called the three good initially. The video review was inconclusive. They should have gone back to the original ruling. The basket should have been good and Colorado should have won the game. (For what it’s worth, Director of Officiating John Adams told Mike DeCourcy the refs got the call right. I’ll respectfully disagree.)

The worst part?

This wasn’t the only call blown by the officials in the final minutes of the game. Solomon Hill hit a huge three in Arizona’s comeback when he was put into the game on an illegal substitution. The refs missed a blatantly obvious intentional foul by Andre Roberson that cost Arizona’s Nick Johnson a layup. They called an atrocious foul on Mark Lyons when Spencer Dinwiddie fell over.

This was not the finest moment for the guys in stripes.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.