These zebras aren’t living the High Life

Texas Longhorn head coach Rick Barnes argues a call with an official during the second half of the Longhorns’ win over the Oklahoma Sooners in the quarterfinals of the NCAA men’s Big 12 basketball championship at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, March 10, 2011. REUTERS/Dave Kaup (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

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There were three big, end-of-game calls on Sunday, and each was suspect in its own way.

The first came at the end of the North Carolina/Washington game. With his team trailing by three, Washington’s Venoy Overton heaved a shot from half court with his off hand because he thought he was going to get fouled by the North Carolina player. The foul never came and his shot fell short, glancing off the hands of UNC’s John Henson before landing out of bounds. The replay clearly showed the ball hit the floor with 1.2 seconds on the clock, but there was a lag between when the official finally blew his whistle and when the clock operator stopped the clock. It was still Washington’s ball, so they got that part right, but instead of having 1.2 seconds to get a shot off, the Huskies only had 0.5 seconds to work with. Washington’s coaching staff asked the officials about the time and were apparently told that it was correct. In other words, the refs didn’t even bother to go to the replay in this crucial situation to ensure that there was enough time on the clock.

With only 0.5 seconds on the clock, Washington chucked up a desperate two-pointer that fell short. Huskies lose, Tar Heels advance.

The second officiating fail came towards the end of the Syracuse/Marquette matchup with the game tied and less than a minute to play. It was Syracuse’s ball at midcourt. As the pass came in to an airborne Scoop Jardine, one of his feet landed on the halfcourt line. The ref saw that and called Syracuse for a backcourt violation.

Sounds fine, right? Wrong. The rule clearly states that an airborne player can land in the backcourt when the ball is being inbounded. It doesn’t matter if he jumped from the frontcourt to the backcourt, because he never established position with the ball in the frontcourt.

The ref gave the ball to Marquette, who took control of the game by promptly hitting a three-pointer on its next possession and went on to win by four points. Orangemen lose, Golden Eagles advance.

The final officiating fail was the worst. Texas led Arizona by two points with under 10 seconds to play, and the Longhorns were inbounding the ball on their own baseline. The ref tossed the ball to Cory Joseph and started his five count. When the official finished his fourth swing of the arm, Joseph turned to the ref and called a timeout. Only instead of granting it, the ref called a five second violation.

On the next play, Arizona’s Derrick Williams took the ball to the rim, scored and was fouled for a potential three-point play. He hit the free throw, giving his team the lead for good. Longhorns lose, Wildcats advance.

It’s never easy to be an official, but Sunday reminded us just how tough it is sometimes for the zebras to live the High Life.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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