Actually, Barnes backed into Williams who had gone up to grab the ball. It was a good no-call, especially when you consider it was called in front of a hostile Georgia crowd. The easy call would have been to whistle Williams for a non-existant over the back foul and award Barnes freethrows. (Which he wouldn't have made!)
A few things were learned during last night’s SEC hoops contests. Allow us to recap:
* Tennessee’s 59-57 last-second win at Georgia showed that the Vols might not be quite dead yet. Since trailing Vanderbilt by 17 in the first half on Saturday, the Vols have mounted a furious rally to down the Commodores and gone into a hostile environment and pulled out an unlikely victory over a well-respected UGA team. If UT continues to play as it did last night, Tony Jones’ halftime speech against VU might be seen as a turning point for the Vols. Next up: A road game at UConn with Bruce Pearl back on the bench.
* Credit Jones for the work he’s done so far. The Vols are 2-2 without Pearl and appear to be improving. Life is rough for any interim coach, but remember this — Jones is only the interim coach for about 10 hours a week. He takes over a few hours before a game and then cedes control of the team back to Pearl afterwards. He’s not even able to act as his team’s stepdad for a full weekend, just a couple of hours at a time. Kudos to him for managing things well so far.
* SEC officials don’t just take heat in football. As expected, I awoke this morning to several emails from Georgia fans upset that Tennessee’s Brian Williams went over the back of Chris Barnes to grab-a-rebound-and-fire-up-his-last-second-buzzer-beater. He did. And he could have been whistled for it. But none of the emailers I heard from mentioned the fact that Barnes locked onto Williams’ arm on the very same play. As you’ve seen on this site many times before, we believe that refs are human, too… just as capable of making mistakes as the players and coaches are. So, as is our usual stance: Georgia had numerous chances to win its game with Tennessee last night and it’s not the officials’ fault the Dawgs lost. Even Barnes admitted after the game, “you’re not gonna get that type of call.” Not on a last-second shot. Not even at home. Also, most fans only see the calls that go against their squad. I wonder if any of the Vol fans who wanted the recent Music City Bowl result overturned would volunteer to take a loss in last night’s basketball game due to questionable officiating that benefited their team and cost Georgia. Probably not.
* Georgia provides a prime example of how SEC teams will beat up on one another this season. The Dawgs — featuring two potential NBA lottery picks — toppled Kentucky in Athens just two weeks ago. Now they’ve dropped a home game to a Tennessee team that has been struggling for a month. Up and down. Up and down. Better get used to it…
* Even you, Kentucky fans. Following last night’s 68-66 loss at Alabama — in which the Cats trailed by 20! — I’ve had to amend my belief that UK is the easy favorite to win the SEC. We at MrSEC knew that this year’s young Wildcat team couldn’t match last year’s young Wildcat team in the win column, but we still believed they would be the easy favorites in the SEC. (Sorry, but we didn’t buy the Florida hype.) Now at 2-2 in the league and with two losses on the road, we’re left wondering about the mental toughness of John Calipari’s squad. Sure the Cats raced back from 20 down and had a couple of chances to pull the game out in the final 10 seconds. But UK looked lost on both occasions… turning the ball over first and then allowing Terrence Jones to launch a half-court Hail Mary second. Maybe Calipari hasn’t been poor-mouthing his club all along. The Cats appear to have more flaws than we thought.
* Unless Alabama really is as good as its home record suggests. In case you haven’t noticed, the Tide is now 3-1 in the SEC and a perfect 10-0 at Coleman Coliseum. JaMychal Green pumped in 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds last night for his fourth double-double of the season. It’s way too early and Bama’s RPI is way too low for anyone in Tuscaloosa to start talking about NCAA tourney bids quite yet. But one-fourth of the way through the SEC season, Anthony Grant gets the nod as SEC Coach of the Year (So Far). If only they handed out a trophy with that honor.