“Don’t tell me players decide the game. He decided it by stepping in.”
- Fran Fraschilla
February 25th, 2013
On a chilly February night inside the friendly confines of James H. Hilton Coliseum, Iowa State fans had their hearts ripped out in a bizarre and terrible way.
The 2012-2013 Iowa State Basketball Team included names like Babb, Lucious, Clyburn, and of course, Niang and Ejim. Dating back to the year prior, Iowa State had won 22 straight home games, and were looking to add another notch on their belt. Who stood in their way?
The #6 ranked Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas arrived in Ames carrying an overall record of 23-4. They were 11-3 in the Big 12 and looked every bit the part of, well, any typical good Kansas team: Great guards, a lock-down defender, a super-duper freshman star, and of course, Perry Ellis (Also Kevin Young played).
The game itself was fantastic. Iowa State had taken KU to OT earlier in the year, and guys like Tyrus McGee and even Freshman Georges weren’t afraid of this team.
As exciting as the game was, the 2nd half really turned up the crazy:
With 23.1 seconds remaining and Iowa State up 87-85, Jeff Withey, who had 4 fouls at the time, fouled Korie Lucious in the backcourt and began to walk towards the bench because, clearly, his night was over. But then something odd happened. Kansas player Kevin Young put his arm up in a “Yep, that was my bad, I definitely fouled him” type of way. Now, Withey hadn’t realized that his teammate was taking credit for this super obvious foul, but Bill Self certainly did. As Withey turned back towards the bench, Self gestured to him to stay on the floor, and Kevin Young was called for the foul.
That was one of strangest displays of incompetence I have ever seen by a referee. When you make the call, clearly you know who fouled who, and the fact that whoever that ref was saw Young’s hand in the air and still didn’t correctly call it on Withey is awful. AND IT STILL WASN’T THE WORST CALL FROM THIS GAME.
So Lucious steps to the line and sinks both free throws, at which point we are reminded by an ESPN graphic that Iowa State has made 22 straight free throws, which interestingly enough, was the same amount of home games they had won in a row.
So Elijah Johnson comes down the next possession, and, using the borrowed basketball talent you receive from Satan when you commit to play basketball at Kansas, buries a contested 25 footer.
Lucious is fouled and immediately clanks the first free throw, which is the weirdest piece of foreshadowing I’ve seen (22 straight free throws, misses 23rd. 22 straight home wins, loses 23rd).
So now Johnson comes right back down the other end and does this:
“So that has to be a charge, right?”
Why yes, it really should be, insightful basketball fan. But they didn’t call a charge.
“So it was a block, right?”
You would also think that since they didn’t call a charge, they would call a block. But they didn’t
“So that idiot ref just sat there with his head up his ass while there was that much contact and didn’t call anything?”
Right you are. Right. You. Are.
*Sidenote: Even if the ref missed the call and called a block, it would’ve given Iowa State more time to come down on the other end and put up a better shot, but I digress...
At this point, both Fran Fraschilla and Brent Musberger have both declared that they think Georges was set (which he very much was). The crowd is going ballistic, Georges doesn’t think it was the right call, and you better believe that High School Sean was losing his mind in the balcony.
Johnson goes on to make both free throws and the game goes to overtime, but I can tell you, having witnessed this game in-person, that as soon as the game went to OT, it was over. The crowd wasn’t the same, the players never really recovered. They had one chance, and that was it.
The saddest part of this whole blarge thing is that it really takes away from a fantastic game. Iowa State made a school record 17 3’s, Tyrus was phenomenal, Freshman Georges did Freshman Georges things, and Anthony Booker shot too many 3’s.
But the only thing any fan will remember?