Bad Call Robs Hogs Of Road Win

BATON ROUGE, La. -Stan Heath had been calm while facing reporters after Wednesday night's bizarre and unfair 66-63 overtime loss here against LSU.

In front of a handful of reporters, Arkansas basketball sports information director Robby Edwards handed the third-year Arkansas coach the statement of lead official Tom Eades that was meant to explain an apparent game-winning Razorbacks trey being changed to a game-tying 2-pointer.

Heath read it carefully, then dropped his head to the table.

"It was inconclusive?!" Heath said. "One of the guys called it a 3!"

Heath rubbed his hands together, formed a sneer, then said, "Aw, that's sick."

Then Heath slammed a hand loudly on the metal table of the interview nook and stormed out, saying this was "a joke" before heading to the Cox Sports truck to view the footage.

Read Eades' statement, which was a joke, although not so funny to the Hogs: "When I made the call on the floor, it was originally a two. We went to the replay to be sure. It was inconclusive and didn't show us his foot was not on the line."

Several problems with that: One official, the one near the Arkansas bench, signaled the Mike Jones jumper as a 3-pointer. The other, Eades (and that makes his ruling suspicious), called it a 2-pointer.

The scoreboard showed it as a 3-pointer, and no one questioned that until LSU failed to do anything in the last 1.8 seconds.

Also, as in the NFL, replays must show conclusive evidence to over-rule the call on the floor. In this case, the call went both ways by two officials, the scorekeeper notched it as a trey and there was no review until the Tigers failed to score, sort of like the US vs. Russia Olympic robbing decades ago.

"I would assume if there's doubt, we would've gotten the call," Heath said. "They didn't say it was doubtful, they didn't say they were unsure. They just awarded the 2, for whatever reason, I don't know."

Did Heath see one official signal a 3?

"Yes, the official signaled a 3," he said. "Yes, one did signal a 3. That's why everybody - when we saw the 3 go up, we're heading down (toward the LSU bench) to shake hands. We're all gone.

"Then they decide to go back to the monitor, which is the rule, which is the rule, and I understand that."

That's about all he understands. Like the rest of us, Heath watched LSU's videoboard for replays and he liked what he saw.

"I thought it was a 3," Heath said. "I wasn't clear enough with what I saw at the moment of the game. Now, when I looked at the videoboard up there, I thought it was clearly a 3. I mean, 10,000 other people are saying the same thing, they were yelling out, 'Travel!' They didn't want to hear about, they didn't want to fight the 3-pointer. They wanted to see if the referees would call a travel (a close call on the play, but not a reviewable option). And same thing with (LSU) coach (John) Brady. I saw him doing like this (here Heath made the motion for traveling), too. That's the way we all felt. When you look at the big videoboard, (the 3-pointer) was the right call. I don't know if the videoboard is different from the monitor or what - or, you know, the glasses just ain't working. I don't know what it is."

It wasn't exactly a thing of beauty, but it looked like Arkansas would net its first Southeastern Conference win in a dozen tries.

The Hogs thought - and likely still think - they won here Wednesday night in the Maravich Assembly Center.

After LSU's Antonio Hudson scored a layup following Glen Davis' block of Olu Famutimi's putback try, giving the Tigers a 58-56 lead with 10.8 seconds left, Heath called timeout.

The Hogs inbounded to first-time starter Jones, their best pure shooter. Hudson met Jones near the top right of the key. Jones head-faked Hudson to an almost kneeling stance, dribbled, then moved his right high-top over the 3-point line before shuffling it either behind the line or oh-so-barely against it (hard to tell on the grainy videoboard).

That was with 1.8 seconds left.

LSU's Tack Minor hurled a half-courter as the buzzer sounded.

But the Tigers didn't give up.

While the Hogs exploded onto the floor, looking as though they had won an NCAA Tournament game, Brady and company met with the officials at midcourt, under the scoreboard which read: Arkansas 59, LSU 58 with 00:00 remaining.

After a lengthy review - during which Brady complained for a travel call on Jones and Heath desperately wanted the 3-point call to stick - of the monitor, the officials changed Jones' basket to a 2-pointer, sending this to overtime and Heath, who was admirably composed throughout, almost to his knees.

"They really wouldn't give me anything," Heath said. "They just basically said his foot was on the line. They wouldn't elaborate or anything like that. Obviously this is something I've got to look at myself."

Thus stung, the Hogs played the overtime gamely, cutting the LSU lead to 64-63 on two Eric Ferguson free throws with 29.5 seconds left.

But Davis, a porky freshman center who butchered the Hogs for 26 points and 18 rebounds, swatted Ferguson's apparently open drive with both arms and only about 7 seconds left. Minor came up with the loose ball, was fouled and made both free throws with 5.5 seconds left for the win.

The Hogs rebounded well from Saturday's 25-point loss at No. 19 Mississippi State. Heath shuffled his lineup, giving Darian Townes the center start over Steven Hill and Jones started in place of Famutimi.

Excellent moves.

Led by Ronnie Brewer (17 points), Jones (15) and Famutimi (13), the Hogs shot 50 percent in regulation and looked much more confident and speedy. And Arkansas held LSU to 36.7 percent from the floor.

But LSU outrebounded Arkansas 42-29 and the Hogs made just 11 of 19 free throws, missing many of them at crucial times, seemingly a chronic problem.

However, Arkansas played well enough to win, and the Hogs should've been rewarded with this victory. Even the majority of LSU beat writers covering this agreed the Hogs got the shaft and Eades' explanation made no sense.

"I've got to figure out what we can do about that," Heath said. "I need to see that tape, want to look at it even closer. But it just clearly looked like the kid slid his foot back.

"I feel for my players, they really responded so well from our last game."

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