Seth Davis: ‘Arizona Was On Short List Of Contenders Before Brandon Ashley Injury’

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(Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona versus Arizona State had all the makings of a great game. Two conference rivals, same state, double overtime. What’s not to like?

Well, the ending, for starters.

Arizona State hung on – albeit in controversial fashion – to beat then-No. 2 Arizona on Friday, 69-66. The Sun Devils improved to 2-9 against ranked teams in the last four years, but the Pac-12 acknowledged on Sunday that a critical call was missed at the end of the game. Specifically, a technical foul that should have been called on Arizona State’s Jahii Carson, who did a chin-up on the rim following a dunk, wasn’t.

How in the world did the refs miss that?

“I don’t know,” CBS and Sports Illustrated college basketball analyst Seth Davis said on The John Feinstein Show. “One of the rules about referees that we all know is that they tend to take the path of least resistance. So what referee wants to decide a game and basically overturn an apparent result of a game by calling the kid for a technical foul (for) hanging on the rim. Now, he wasn’t just hanging on the rim. He did a chin-up.

“You got to make the call. You have to make that call – because that’s not fair to Arizona.”

That, however, isn’t the only call the refs missed. After Carson’s dunk, Arizona State’s bench stormed the court. Then, so did Arizona State’s student section.

Keep in mind there was still time on the clock.

“Fans don’t belong on the court,” Davis said. “There’s a sacred line, in my view, between the participants – and that includes the officials – and the fans.”

Regardless of your views on court-storming, a technical foul could have – and should have – been called on three different offenses at the end of the game: Carson’s chin-up and the two court-stormings.

“Really, there were three technicals fouls on the play,” Davis said. “(Carson) thought the game was over, but still, you can’t (do that). They should have called a technical foul.”

Instead, Arizona was given 0.7 seconds to attempt a desperation three-pointer.

Nick Johnson’s shot bounced off the rim.

With the loss, Arizona fell to No. 4 in the rankings and is 2-2 since losing Brandon Ashley (foot) for the season – this after starting 21-0 with him. Both losses have come on the road to conference rivals – by a combined five points.

Feinstein dislikes that the NCAA Tournament selection committee, when determining seeding, will likely discount much of what Arizona did when Ashley was in the lineup.

“We’ll see,” Davis said. “I still think they could win enough games to (get) a 1-seed, certainly a 2-seed. It’s actually quite interesting, if you can step back and be dispassionate about it, (to see) how taking one guy off of a team – (the) third-leading scorer and rebounder – can have such a dramatic effect. Because all the dominoes fall.”

Indeed, losing one starter changes the rotations, the bench – everything.

“It changes everything,” Davis said, “and it really is a shame because I thought they were on their way to being on the very, very short list of contenders for a national championship.”

Asked if Florida is the best team in the country, Davis said maybe, but he thinks that Michigan State, when fully healthy, is the best team in the country – or at least he thought so before the Spartans lost, 60-51, to Nebraska on Sunday.

“It definitely gives me pause what happened yesterday,” Davis said. “I mean, losing at Wisconsin (on Feb. 9) at the buzzer without two starters, (that happens). I know Nebraska is (getting better), but you’re still at home, and it’s still Nebraska and you should still win the game.”

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