February 11th, 2011 01:01 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Vanderbilt
Tags: ESPN, Memorial Gym, SEC, So Vanderbilt
Tim Higgins appeared to have screwed up a key call in the closing seconds of last night’s Alabama-Vanderbilt game. With the Commodores leading by two with fewer than 10 seconds to play, Alabama’s JaMychal Green drove the baseline under Vandy’s basket. There was contact between Green and VU’s Festus Ezeli. Higgins blew his whistle, but not to call a foul. Instead he ruled that Green had stepped on the baseline.
Replays suggest Green did not actually step on the baseline. Therefore, Higgins cost Bama the game, right?
First, watch the video and you’ll probably agree that Green’s foot most likely did not touch the baseline (even though the line is partially obscured by Anthony Grant).
Bad call, it seems. But here’s what the popular site SportsByBrooks.com had to say about the incident:
“… there’s no denying (Higgins) went out of his way to make an incorrect call that unquestionably determined the final outcome of the game.”
First, Higgins appeared to be in proper position to make the call. From his angle — which isn’t the same angle we see from ESPN’s cameras, mind you — the side of Green’s shoe might have appeared to have hit the baseline. We don’t know. We weren’t in the middle of Memorial Gym trying to watch Green’s foot and contact on the play all in a split-second.
What we do know is that if an official is in proper position and staring directly at a play when he blows his whistle, it’s more than a little silly to suggest that ref “went out of his way to make an incorrect call.” Out of his way? He blew his whistle when he thought he saw a player three feet from him step out of bounds. Higgins wasn’t making the call from the opposite baseline. He was right on the play. Closer than ESPN’s camera.
Second, did Higgins call really “unquestionably determine the final outcome of the game?” Uh, hell and no. Alabama turned the ball over 12 times. They missed four free throws. They missed 13 out of 15 three-point attempts. The Tide had plenty of chances to take control of the game before the six-second mark.
In addition, who is to say that Green was going to hit two foul shots if he had been sent to the line on an Ezeli foul? He is a 75% shooter. But let’s say for argument’s sake that he would have nailed them both to tie the game with six seconds to play. So Vanderbilt was guaranteed not to score?
And let’s also toss in all of the other questionable calls from the night. I’ve yet to see a block/charge call that didn’t leave one team cheering and the other team screaming in anger. College basketball officials have to make a lot of judgement calls in each and every game… and they’re called judgment calls for a reason. There were plenty of other 50/50 calls in last night’s game that also impacted the final score.
No one at MrSEC.com is saying Higgins didn’t blow the call. It appears to us that he did and he’ll have to answer to that when the SEC grades its officials. But as usual, the “it cost us the game” nonsense is over-the-top. Alabama lost last night. Higgins’ call didn’t help their cause. But the Tide had had 39 minutes and 54 seconds to go out of their own way to take matters out of Higgins’ hands. They didn’t. And that unquestionably determined the final outcome of the game.
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