The Hoosiers were within striking distance Thursday of capturing a win against No. 16 Purdue. A late double foul in the second half changed the momentum of the game.
Officiating is one of the most difficult jobs in sports. No matter what sport and the level of competition, there is constant pressure on the officiating crew to make every call correct. More times than not, the officials get the call correct. Outliers happen occasionally but a string of missteps by Big Ten officials might have cost Indiana valuable opportunities.
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The first head-scratching call came in the final seconds of the game against No. 16 Purdue Thursday night. Indiana’s Thomas Bryant and Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan each had four fouls before the play. The officiating was nearly unbearable the entire game. It started with a swat from Isaac Haas across De’Ron Davis’ face sending him to the floor. The officials let the Purdue continue on one possession that resulted in a three before calling a timeout. Fans were ready to implode the entire game, and the officials gave them that.
45.4 seconds left in the game when Thomas Bryant drove to the rim, Swanigan attempted to draw a charge and whistles blow. One official is signaling an offensive foul on Bryant. The official on the baseline is simultaneously calling a blocking foul on Swanigan. The officials huddle up to review the call. They manage to foul out the two best big men in the conference. Both calls stand, Indiana ends up with the ball underneath the basket and no free throws. A blocking foul and charge being called simultaneous? How can that be?
Take a look at the play provided by the Big Ten Network (3:25 marker).
This play coming in the most vital point in the game. If Indiana gets the bucket and the foul, Bryant shoots a free throw, Caleb Swanigan fouls out and it’s a one-possession game. The real question was is simple: How can a blocking foul and a charging foul occur on the floor at the same time? Both have different definitions and should not be able to happen in the same spot at the same time.
The officials explained in a statement released after the game,
It’s covered by rule, ‘Rule 10, Penalty F.’ The rule is, there shall be no free throws for any double personal or simultaneous personal foul, and the ball shall be put in play at the point of interruption unless one of the fouls is a flagrant foul. That’s what it is covered under.’’ – Lamont Simpson, Big Ten referee
A follow-up question was asked about the possibility of the third official creating a tie breaker,
“No, you automatically go to that rule. You can’t pick one. You don’t pick one. You have to go to the rule.’’ – Lamont Simpson, Big Ten referee
It’s a tough break for Indiana at a crucial point in the game. Bryant ended up fouling out with a game-high 23 points. Swanigan had 16 points and 14 rebounds for Purdue. If the call goes Indiana’s way it could have created a huge momentum swing for the Hoosiers.
The disappointing loss was paired with another loss on Sunday night. Once again, the officials seemed to make some questionable calls. The first call was coming after the officials could not figure out who the ball last touched after an inbounds pass. The call was made as a jump ball, Michigan had possession and they knocked down a three-pointer. For the second consecutive game, a double foul was called on Thomas Bryant and D.J. Wilson.
With just about under 10 minutes left in the second half, for the second consecutive game, a double foul was called on Thomas Bryant and D.J. Wilson. Fans were just as upset as they were on Thursday night. Two blundering calls that put Indiana on the opposite end of both calls.
Indiana’s frustration with the officials is a boiling over of their frustration as a team. Granted that some of these calls could have gone in the favor of the Hoosiers, they didn’t. Their ability to close out games has been devastating.