The Texas Longhorns were the only hope left that the state of Texas had of having representation at the NCAA's Final Four in Houston next month, but their run was cut short by Arizona after a controversial (read: incorrect) five second call on their inbounds pass to end the game. After Derrick Williams was effectively stuffed by the Texas front line, Texas' Jordan Hamilton came away with the ball and called a timeout. Following that five second call, the Wildcats went back to Williams and this time he delivered a three-point play to take the lead. Texas had about eight seconds remaining, but couldn't come up with the bucket they needed to win the game.
After it was all said and done, Rick Barnes went off on the officials for the five-second call, as Yahoo!'s Jason King reported:
"No question about it," said Barnes, shaking his head as he turned away from the monitor. "Four seconds, no question at all."
"It comes down how fast you count five seconds," Barnes said. "Cory definitely called timeout with four seconds. There was no doubt about it.
"With the electronics we have now, if there's any question about it, I think they should be able to fix it. If it's a missed call, they should do the right thing. There are certain things that can be corrected. At the very end, if you truly want the players to determine the [outcome], the NCAA has to be willing to say, ‘OK, we're going to get this right.' "
Barnes certainly has a right to be upset by the call. It's never fun when the officials are forced to decide a game, even if they do it correctly like they did in the Pittsburgh-Butler game. At the same time, this just smacks of the same whining that Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon did earlier this weekend.
Because really, one isolated play did not make or break this game. It's tempting to say the two sides were evenly matched when you look at the box score. Perhaps you can point out Arizona's three-pointers as the difference maker--call it luck, call it a fluke, they made eight threes while the Longhorns made three.
But what you can't see in that box score is that the Longhorns absolutely made it back into the game at the discretion of the very officials that Barnes is bashing. If the referees were even the slightest bit lenient on the contact in this game, there's no way that J'Covan Brown goes to the free throw line 11 times in a span of nine minutes to help Texas close a eight point gap. This game was a defensive struggle at it's finest, and Derrick Williams had effectively made Tristan Thompson irrelevant. The only thing Texas had going for it down the stretch was Brown off the pick-and-roll.
Look, there are a lot of things the NCAA could do if they cared about "get(ting) this right." Sensors in the balls, sensors on the out-of-bounds lines. Sensors all over the place. The human element of refereeing can never be completely erased in basketball, but it's not hard to imagine a future where the easy calls are computer-made and the more interpretive ones are up to officials.
One way we won't get there though? By whining about it. The refs helped Texas out in this game just as much as they helped out Arizona. Barnes' player was the one who called the timeout rather than get fouled and go to the free throw line. Sounds like some not-so-great coaching to me. Maybe someone should whine about it so we can get some real coaches in there and they can get things right.