There was some controversy at the end of the thrilling, 109-106 triple overtime win that Kansas notched over visiting Oklahoma on Monday night.
With the score 107-106 and just 15 seconds left in the third overtime, Frank Mason made a sensational play on an inbounds play, deflecting Buddy Hield’s pass and corralling the loose ball. He would eventually get fouled and hit two free throws with 8.6 seconds left that gave Kansas the final margin of victory.
The question, however, is whether or not Mason committed a violation when he made the steal.
There are a couple of components here, which I’ll get to after the video:
The complicating factor here is that the scorer’s table is so close to the court that Hield simply doesn’t have any space behind him to move back. Officials aren’t required to, but they generally ask for the defense to allow the inbounder for three feet of space. The issue, however, is that Mason’s toe touches the sideline at one point, and he arms pretty clearly cross that plane.
I’m not convinced that Mason tipped that ball in bounds, or if it was even out of Hield’s hand at the time.
So yes, I absolutely think that this was a violation, and I also believe that the referees blew it in not telling Mason to give Hield more space to begin with.
That said, this may have been the only questionable call of the game to go KU’s way. Bill Self picked up a technical foul after a pretty atrocious foul was called on Mason when he picked Hield’s pocket in the first half. And, at the end of regulation, the refs missed a foul on Mason’s would-have-been game-winning drive, instead (correctly) calling Landen Lucas for an over-the-back that gave Khadeem Lattin a free throw to win the game. (He missed.)