ANAHEIM, Calif. — In what was otherwise a thrilling game, the West Regional Elite Eight game came down one final controversy in the waning seconds of overtime.
With three seconds left, Arizona guard Nick Johnson was whistled for a charge on a jumper that could have won the game for the No. 1-seeded Wildcats. By all accounts, it was questionable and ticky-tack. But then as Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser tried to inbound the ball it went out of bounds and another controversy ensued as the call was reviewed for several minutes.
USBWA pool reporter Mark Ziegler of the San Diego Union-Tribue issued a statement regarding the decision to reverse the call and give the ball to Arizona. Ziegler was not allowed to interview the officials but NCAA national men’s basketball officiating coordinator John Adams a statement to Zeigler.
"The original ruling awarded the ball to Wisconsin. Officials used Rule 11-2-1-e-2 to review an out of bounds call in the last two minutes of an OT period. All three officials agreed that the Wisconsin player was the last to touch the ball before it went out of bounds. They reversed the call and awarded the ball to Arizona.
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Adams was watching the game on monitors in New York which provided him 14 different camera angles and a producer on headset to cue up each angle. The NCAA said numerous angles were reviewed.
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan, despite his victory, lamented the officiating. Several ticky-tack calls were made. Puzzling calls considering how far into March we are.
"If it’s going to be that long, we’re not getting the ball," Ryan said. "The first 10 minutes, internally there was a lot of gnashing going on."
Arizona head coach Sean Miller politely restrained himself when asked about Johnson’s charge call, yet sent a subtle message.
"I thought it was a really, really tough call," Miller said. "I’m going to stop there. I’ve already been fined."
But here’s where everyone was in agreeance: It was unfortunate that such a brilliant and entertaining game will be remembered not for what happened for 44 minutes and 57 seconds, but for one call at the very end.