Monday night’s Kansas-Iowa State game has brought about quite a bit of emotion from college basketball fans and college analysts. Even Stewart Scott gave his two cents during the intro to the KU-ISU highlight package on SportsCenter right after the game. “You’ve gotta call something,” Scott said.
“What you arrogant and ignorant beaker fans don’t ever want to admit to, is that you get the calls when [it] matters. The refs make a bunch of BS calls to even out the fouls, but they GIVE KU ALL the important calls.” – “Think_humanely” comment on Blair Kerkhoff’s “Referees’ calls impacted KU’s victory and Big 12 race”
If Ken Pomeroy researched late game fouls and found teams like Kansas received favorable calls late in games nobody – with the noted exception of a certain segment of diehard Kansas fans – would be surprised. This research would be as surprising as finding out Oklahoma and Texas receive preferential treatment from officials in football. This isn’t a Kansas basketball thing or a Big 12 thing but something that crosses all sports at all levels. Cliff Lee gets more calls on the corners than Luke Hochevar. Tom Brady gets more roughing the passer calls than Matt Cassel. LeBron James isn’t allowed to be called for traveling unless he is crab dribbling.
Kansas gets the benefit of the doubt on calls late in games. This is a fact. Or at least as much of a fact as something can be without Nate Silver’s blessing.
But here’s the thing about that fact as it relates to last night: Everyone knows Kansas gets calls. At least everyone should know it, anyway. When Korie Lucious made a three and ISU then followed it up with a defensive stop to give Iowa State the ball and a seven point lead with 4:43 left in the game, two things had to be going through the Cyclones mind at the time: “Holy crap we’re hitting a ton of threes” and “we can’t let this game get close again.” Kansas is a top 10 team that is going to get the benefit of the doubt from officials no matter if they are at home or on the road. Opponents cannot give Kansas a chance to take advantage of their Kansas-ness.
So what did Iowa State do from the 4:43 point on? ISU went two-for-eight from the field (six three point attempts), were out-rebounded seven-to-two, allowed three offensive rebounds (all by KU guards), and watched KU go five-for-nine from the field and six-of-seven from the line. In short, Iowa State was outscored 18-11 from the 4:43 mark on. The Cyclones let Kansas back into the game by taking quick threes, not rebounding, and playing poor defense.
Iowa State put themselves into a position where an official’s call mattered, and it should never have gotten to that point. Everyone in that building should have known Kansas was going to get a call or two once Jeff Withey inexplicably was not given a fifth foul.
Officiating in college basketball needs to get better, no question, but teams cannot put themselves in a position where the game can be decided by an official. Especially when the opponent is Kansas.