Marshall Henderson

Why do I love when coaches don’t foul up three at the end of a game?

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I love when coaches are up three in the final seconds of a game and they don’t foul.

For me, it’s the best of both worlds.

On the one hand, it’s incredible for the game. If Kevin Stallings fouled up three, we never would have seen Marshall Henderson hit a 35-footer to force overtime just three seconds after Vandy had taken the lead. If Fred Hoiberg fouled up three, Ben McLemore wouldn’t have banked-in a three and, in the process, vaulted himself into the National Player of the Year discussion. If John Calipari fouled when he was up three, Mario Chalmers wouldn’t be a legend and Bill Self may be 0-2 against Cal in title games.

The list goes on.

And as a fan of the game first, foremost and always, there is quite literally nothing that makes me happier than seeing a great game get the gift of five free minutes of basketball because someone hit a deep three at the buzzer. That moment in time, when the ball is stuck hanging in the air and everyone — fans, players, coaches, refs, announcers, everyone — is waiting out those agonizing seconds, wondering if that shot will fall through the net is simply the best. The inherent beauty is the helplessness. Once the ball leaves the shooter’s hands, there’s nothing you can do but watch.

But there’s a second reason why I love when a coach decides not to foul up three. I’m a writer that writes about college basketball, and, in my mind, there is no reason for a coach not to foul in that situation.

The situation has to be right, mind you. You don’t want to foul in the front court, because you run the risk of bad timing and giving up three free throws. You don’t want to foul when there are more than about eight or ten seconds left, because there is too much time on the clock and two free throws is essentially the same thing as giving up a layup that extends the game. You don’t want to foul when there are less than two seconds because, again, you run the risk of giving up three free throws and the odds of actually being able to get a good look at the rim are fairly miniscule.

But when there’s enough time on the clock to get a good look at the rim?

So much has to happen in order for the game to go to overtime. The other team has to: a) make the first free throw, which is harder that you’d think in a pressure-packed situation like that; b) intentionally miss a free throw, which is something that basketball players simply are not wired to do; and c) get an offensive rebound off of that miss and find a way to score with just a couple of ticks left on the game clock.

Frankly, I’ll trust my players to box out on an intentionally-missed free throw instead of hoping that the best shooter on the other team misses a three.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.

VIDEO: New Mexico loses game on blown call by officials

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Nothing like a nice, controversial finish to get the blood flowing.

New Mexico was on the receiving end of a rule misinterpretation on Saturday afternoon, and that interpretation likely cost the Lobos a win over San Diego State and, arguably, a shot at the MWC regular season title.

Here’s the situation: New Mexico is up by three with 12 seconds left and the ball under their own basket. Their allowed to run the baseline, so Craig Neal calls a play where the inbounder throws the ball to a player running out of bounds.

Totally league as long as the player establishes out of bounds before touching the ball. The referee rules that he doesn’t.

Here’s the video:

The problem?

According to the rules, Xavier Adams — the player receiving the pass from Cullen Neal — only needed one foot on the floor out of bounds in order to establish himself as an inbounder that was able to catch that ball. He got one foot down (see the picture above), but the referees appeared to rule that he needed to have both feet down.

That was incorrect, according to the Mountain West office.

“While this was a very close judgment call made at full speed, it has been determined after careful review of slow-motion video replays the call was in fact incorrect,” the league said in a release. “The New Mexico player did get one foot down (two feet are not required) out-of-bounds before receiving the ball, thus establishing his location in accordance NCAA Basketball Playing Rules 4.23.1.a and 7.1.1.  By rule, the officials were not permitted to go to the monitor during the game to review this play.”

And here’s the kicker: When SDSU got the ball back, they hit a three to send the game into overtime, where the Aztecs won. But if New Mexico had won this game, they’d be sitting at 8-2 in MWC play, one game behind SDSU in the loss column with a return game against them in The Pit.

Instead, they’re now three games back with seven to play, meaning that the race is effectively over.

It’s tough to blame the referees here — it was a bang-bang call that is only clear in slow-motion replay — but man, that’s a big call to miss.