Heath Says Integrity Of Game Damaged At LSU

FAYETTEVILLE -- Officials Tom Eades and John Hampton had trouble deciding if Arkansas senior Mike Jones' final shot of regulation was the game-winner or not against LSU on Wednesday in Baton Rouge.

Not surprisingly, the aftermath continued on Thursday following Arkansas' 66-63 overtime loss to the Tigers.

Despite video evidence to the contrary, Hampton told Southeastern Conference supervisor of men's officials John Guthrie he never signaled a made 3-pointer by Jones and Razorbacks coach Stan Heath told SEC Commissioner Mike Slive the integrity of the game was compromised by Eades' decision at the end of regulation.

To review, Jones hit a shot from the top of the key with 1.8 seconds left and Arkansas trailing 58-56.

Eades signaled that Jones' toe was on the line and awarded him two points while Hampton simultaneously threw up his hands in the touchdown signal in front of the Arkansas bench and the scorer's table to give the Razorbacks three and a 59-58 lead.

When Tack Minor's halfcourt heave fell well short, Arkansas celebrated and tried to leave the court but Eades reviewed the play and took a point off the scoreboard to send the game into overtime, where the Razorbacks failed to make a field goal and missed 4 of 9 free throws to help LSU escape with the win.

Things heated up after the game when Heath read a statement from Eades saying the replay evidence was "inconclusive" to count Jones' shot as a 3-pointer.

Heath slammed his hands on the table and stormed out of his press conference calling the ruling "a joke."

Making the call more difficult to decipher was that Jones traveled by sliding his pivot foot over the 3-point line after a pump fake.

When the replay was shown on the large Maravich Assembly Center video screen, the fans and LSU coach John Brady began to loudly campaign for a traveling call rather than try to overrule the three points on the scoreboard.

Heath, who said Jones traveled but did have his foot barely behind the line on the shot, alleged on Thursday during his appearance on the SEC coaches conference call that Eades made up for missing the traveling call by not correctly awarding Jones a 3-pointer.

"So now you go back to the TV monitor and you say, 'Well, he traveled so don't reward him with a three,'" Heath said. "Well, that's not right, either."

Heath said that wasn't the explanation he was given by the officials, but it was what he was "putting together in my head" because of the crowd reaction.

"First, they were like, 'Hey, it's a two! It's a two!' and then all the sudden, they saw it and they said, 'Oh, he traveled! Oh, he traveled! Oh, he traveled!'" Heath said. "You've got 8 or 10,000 people seeing the same thing and so that is what I'm saying.

"The game was compromised last night. I thought that was unfair to the kids. I thought that was unfair to our sport."

Meanwhile, Hampton told Guthrie on Thursday he never signaled a 3-pointer and only put one hand up after the shot went in to signal for the clock to stop, as it does on all makes in the final minute.

Guthrie told The Morning News late Thursday morning that to his knowledge from talking to all three officials and the SEC observer at LSU, no official had signaled for a 3-pointer.

A review of the film in Arkansas' basketball offices following Heath's afternoon press conference showed Hampton failed to put his hand up when the shot was released as is required on a 3-point attempt.

While Eades emphatically pointed two fingers downward when the shot went up, Hampton made no signal until Jones' shot swished through and then he put both hands in the air.

When reached again late Thursday afternoon, Guthrie, who had still not seen the tape, said the film didn't mesh with what Hampton told him.

"It was not my impression that he had given me," Guthrie said. "That's what he told me, but obviously you have added information and I need to clarify that. It doesn't change anything but I do feel like it changes the information I was given."

Guthrie said the issue remains whether or not Jones' shot was a 3-pointer and he said based on Eades' review there was not enough evidence to conclude that it was.

"It wasn't clearly a 3," Guthrie said. "If you don't know for sure it's a 3, then it's a 2. They couldn't see if his foot was clear of the line. It was inconclusive that it was a 3."

As the official in the center position between the foul line extended and the top of the 3-point line, the call was in Eades' primary coverage area, Guthrie said, not in Hampton's as the trail official.

"That was an inaccurate," Guthrie said of Hampton's signal. "It was erroneous. In the final review of the tape, Eades concluded it was not a 3. It was not a 3 by (Eades), it should not have been signaled a touchdown signal (by Hampton). I don't know why he signaled that. I was not aware of that.

"I will follow that up."

Still, with one official signaling a 2 and the other a 3, Guthrie said it was vital the call was double-checked.

"The review did read that it was not conclusive and that's the issue we're dealing with," Guthrie said.

He also explained how the call could be reviewed even after LSU inbounded the ball and missed its desperation shot at the buzzer.

The window for reviewing calls in the "correctable error" category states that a call must be checked before the second live ball.

Had Arkansas deflected the ball out of bounds after Jones' shot and LSU retained possession, once the Tigers inbounded the ball a second time it would have been too late to change the scoreboard.

Because the game ended on Minor's shot, there was no second live ball to close the window of review, Guthrie said.

"It was a strange way for the game to be continued like that," said Brady, who admitted he couldn't tell if Jones' shot was a 3 or not. "It worked out for us this time and it was unfortunate for Arkansas, but it was fortunate for us.

"Those things happen if you play enough games and this time it turned out in our favor and I'm sure it will balance out with Stan's team as it moves along."

Heath's comments Thursday were the second in less than a week pointedly criticizing the officials.

Heath called the officiating at Mississippi State a "charade" and "a joke" after the Bulldogs shot 39 free throws to Arkansas' 12 in the Razorbacks' 80-55 loss last Saturday.

The conference media relations office said no action would be taken against Heath for those comments.

Heath had "a long talk" with Slive on Thursday and said he wants "just an honest admission of the truth."

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