“This is important,” the ex-Notre Dame coach said, addressing UK fans in the upper deck of Memorial Gym. “We’ve been with you at Kentucky. This is Vandy’s home game. This is Vandy’s — listen to me, listen to me — it’s their home game.” He then added sternly: “You (Kentucky fans) are a part of it. But you show respect for Vandy. I don’t want any nonsense. I don’t want any incidents. Don’t ruin this for ‘College GameDay.’”
“It certainly looks like a tough game right now. You can expect all of them to be tough, but Middle’s having a great year. They have a very, very good team. (Belmont coach) Rick Byrd told me early in the year when he played them after the first times, he said, ‘I’m telling you, they’re not really good for Middle or really good for their league. They’re really good.’ They’ve certainly proven him to be 100% correct.”
Vandy and MTSU battle at Memorial Gym tomorrow afternoon. The Commodores have won nine of their last 10 games and crushed Tennessee on Tuesday.
Tim Higgins appeared to have screwed up a key call in the closing seconds of last night’s Alabama-Vanderbilt game. With the Commodores leading by two with fewer than 10 seconds to play, Alabama’s JaMychal Green drove the baseline under Vandy’s basket. There was contact between Green and VU’s Festus Ezeli. Higgins blew his whistle, but not to call a foul. Instead he ruled that Green had stepped on the baseline.
Replays suggest Green did not actually step on the baseline. Therefore, Higgins cost Bama the game, right?
First, watch the video and you’ll probably agree that Green’s foot most likely did not touch the baseline (even though the line is partially obscured by Anthony Grant).
Bad call, it seems. But here’s what the popular site SportsByBrooks.com had to say about the incident:
“… there’s no denying (Higgins) went out of his way to make an incorrect call that unquestionably determined the final outcome of the game.”
First, Higgins appeared to be in proper position to make the call. From his angle — which isn’t the same angle we see from ESPN’s cameras, mind you — the side of Green’s shoe might have appeared to have hit the baseline. We don’t know. We weren’t in the middle of Memorial Gym trying to watch Green’s foot and contact on the play all in a split-second.
What we do know is that if an official is in proper position and staring directly at a play when he blows his whistle, it’s more than a little silly to suggest that ref “went out of his way to make an incorrect call.” Out of his way? He blew his whistle when he thought he saw a player three feet from him step out of bounds. Higgins wasn’t making the call from the opposite baseline. He was right on the play. Closer than ESPN’s camera.
Second, did Higgins call really “unquestionably determine the final outcome of the game?” Uh, hell and no. Alabama turned the ball over 12 times. They missed four free throws. They missed 13 out of 15 three-point attempts. The Tide had plenty of chances to take control of the game before the six-second mark.
In addition, who is to say that Green was going to hit two foul shots if he had been sent to the line on an Ezeli foul? He is a 75% shooter. But let’s say for argument’s sake that he would have nailed them both to tie the game with six seconds to play. So Vanderbilt was guaranteed not to score?
And let’s also toss in all of the other questionable calls from the night. I’ve yet to see a block/charge call that didn’t leave one team cheering and the other team screaming in anger. College basketball officials have to make a lot of judgement calls in each and every game… and they’re called judgment calls for a reason. There were plenty of other 50/50 calls in last night’s game that also impacted the final score.
No one at MrSEC.com is saying Higgins didn’t blow the call. It appears to us that he did and he’ll have to answer to that when the SEC grades its officials. But as usual, the “it cost us the game” nonsense is over-the-top. Alabama lost last night. Higgins’ call didn’t help their cause. But the Tide had had 39 minutes and 54 seconds to go out of their own way to take matters out of Higgins’ hands. They didn’t. And that unquestionably determined the final outcome of the game.
Good news for the SEC West last night — Alabama finally lost a game. Vanderbilt’s 81-77 homecourt win snapped the Tide’s five-game winning streak and pulled the Commodores even with Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee in the SEC East.
While Brad Tinsley’s three-point play with 17 seconds to go provided the key points in VU’s win, it was a play under Vandy’s basket seconds later that has folks talking. Down two, the Tide’s JaMychal Green drove the ‘Dores’ baseline and appeared to be fouled… but officials ruled he had stepped out of bounds with 6.3 second left to play. But viewing replays, it looked as if Green’s foot had stayed inbounds.
“He drove the baseline,” Tinsley said after the game. “I mean, there could’ve been a lot of calls right there. He just happened to step out of bounds, I guess.”
“It was in the referees’ hands,” was Green’s take. “I can’t do anything about it.”
And head coach Anthony Grant? “All I know is that a call was made and we have to respect the call that was made.”
The Commodores sank two free throws to ice the game on the other end.
Vandy — the SEC’s top scoring team (77.9 ppg) — posted 81 points against Bama’s top-ranked defense (57.1 ppg). Advantage: Offense. At least last night on Vanderbilt’s home floor.
Alabama hasn’t won at Memorial Gym in Nashville since 1990. Vandy is now 5-4 in the East in second place, 2.5 games behind Florida. Alabama’s lead in the West has been cut to two games (over Mississippi State).
The Vanderbilt Commodores will welcome Belmont University to Memorial Gym on Saturday afternoon for a 1 p.m. CT tip-off. The game can be heard on the Vanderbilt Sports Network from IMG College and vucommodores.com. (more)
The Vanderbilt Commodores play their second game of a four-game homestand when they host Appalachian State Saturday afternoon at Memorial Gym. The game tips off at 1 p.m. CT and can be heard on the Vanderbilt Sports Network from IMG College and vucommodores.com. There will be no television. (more)