Forget Blown Call

Remember two years ago when two holding calls against Arkansas inflamed the Razorback Nation after a football loss to Auburn? Two more losses followed in quick fashion. That three-game losing streak took Arkansas out of the top 10 and it hasn't sniffed the top 25 since.

It's all right for fans to yell and scream after a controversial call by an official impacts the result of a game. In fact, it's expected. It's all right for us media types to write about it for a few days. We have every right to beat a dead horse long after it's been sent to the glue factory.

It's not all right for players and coaches to dwell long on those situations. That's why it is important for Arkansas' coaches and players to get over the overtime loss Wednesday night at LSU no matter what they think of the decisions made by the three-man crew of officials in Baton Rouge, La.

It doesn't matter that official John Hampton threw both hands up at the end of regulation to signal a three-point field goal made by Michael Jones which could have given the Hogs a much-needed road victory.

It doesn't matter that Stan Heath has video that shows Hampton making the call. I saw the video Thursday afternoon. It doesn't matter that Heath also has the video that shows the scoreboard reading 59-58 in the UA's favor.

Nothing is going to change at this point. The SEC record book will forever show it as a 66-63 LSU victory. Heath knows that. His protests Thursday were only done in hopes of getting someone in the SEC office to admit he is right and the officials, who all maintain that none of them signaled it as a three, are just plain wrong.

Heath has done his part. He talked to the league commissioner. That was after getting nowhere with the supervisor of officials. During those conversations Heath even admitted that Jones walked before firing his three-point shot. But he is clear that he believes Jones made a three-point basket and at least one official knows it and is now denying he ever made the signal.

Aside from that, Heath is ready to move on. It's a loss and it isn't going to change no matter how much more screaming he does. He is hopeful that his players put it aside, too. In that vein, Heath opened his media briefing Wednesday afternoon by discussing Auburn, and not the LSU game. The first handfuls of questions asked by the media were also about Auburn.

It wasn't until 10 minutes into the session that someone asked what Heath thought of the officials.

When it came time to discuss Hampton's signal of the three, Heath asked a member of the sports information department if he could mention the official by name.

Told he could, Heath was quick to oblige.

It will be tough for the players to move forward, just as it was difficult for the football Hogs to forget the two holding calls against George Wilson two football seasons ago against Auburn. The hoop Hogs hadn't forgotten Thursday afternoon as they hit the courts for practice.

Jones, the central figure in the game's two key plays, didn't sleep at all after the team flew home Wednesday night. He said he was replaying the entire game, not just the three-point shot at the end of regulation.

"There's a lot to think about," Jones said. "I know it was a three. I saw the official signal it. I have to respect the decision they made after the game, but I guess not everyone has 20-20 vision."

Obviously, Jones thinks Tom Eades, the crew chief, made a mistake in taking the three off the board and sending the game into overtime.

"But you have to move on," Jones said. "You can't dwell on it. I probably did walk, but that's not what they called. I saw the replay and I probably did walk.

I saw the replay of the shot, too, and it was a three. I shuffled my feet, but they were both behind the line. It's just that not everyone has 20-20 vision."

Jones said it twice. Not everyone sees with perfect vision. I don't. I had to look at the replay several times and even with the help of slow motion it was difficult to tell if his feet were clearly behind the line.

What I did see in another replay was the play eight seconds before his shot when Olu Famutimi had his attempt at a follow-shot blocked by Glenn Davis on what would have been the go-ahead bucket for Arkansas.

I saw Davis knock Famutimi off balance just before blocking his shot. Davis retrieved the ball and fired a touchdown pass for an uncontested layup for LSU's go-ahead basket.

Officials didn't call a foul on Famutimi's miss. Heath objected to that no-call, but he also knows that Jones' failure to rotate on defense killed the Hogs on that play. With Eric Ferguson driving the middle and Famutimi crashing the paint for the rebound, Jones had to rotate to protect for the snowbird.

Should Famutimi have pulled the ball out with the shot clock turned off after his rebound? Should the Hogs have then held for the last shot with the score tied?

"I don't second guess that," Heath said. "I just wish we had rotated. Mike was standing around on that play. We had no rotation and that was a breakdown. Jones knows it. That's one of the things he thought about as he fought unsuccessfully at sleeping.

"I have to rotate," Jones said. "I forgot whether I was playing the three or the four during that instant. If you are the three, you rotate and cover the back when the point guard drives. If you are the four, you crash. I forgot. I thought a lot about that all night, too."

It's time for the Hogs to forget all of it. It's time to get ready for Auburn. It's the first of two home games. The second comes a week from Saturday when Kentucky travels to Bud Walton Arena. If the Hogs aren't ready to play in these next two games they will have done exactly the same thing as their football brothers did two years ago when controversy sidetracked their season.

CLAY HENRY IS THE PUBLISHER OF HAWGS ILLUSTRATED, A STEPHENS MEDIA GROUP PUBLICATION. HIS COLUMN APPEARS EACH FRIDAY. E-MAIL: CLAY@NWAONLINE.NET

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