Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Collision-filed no-call: Iowa State’s Georges Niang takes an apparent charge against Kansas’ Elijah Johnson late in regulation Monday night, but the only whistle came seconds later as the players tussled for a loose ball on the floor. Kansas beat Iowa State 108-96 in OT and the Big 12 admitted Tuesday officials made errors late in the game.

In her 2000 film review, Washington Post critic Rita Kempley wrote “A million monkeys with a million crayons would be hard-pressed in a million years to create anything as cretinous as ‘Battlefield Earth.’”

Along those lines, how putrid was the officiating during Monday night’s Kansas-Iowa State overtime game? Let’s just hand out some crayons and call it Battlefield Ames.

Curtis Shaw, the Big 12’s supervisor of officials, said the league would review the performances of Tom O’Neill, Mark Whitehead and Bert Smith, and anything less than a suspension would be light.

Well, here’s what the league announced Tuesday afternoon, a cryptic and murky comment that fails to spell out specific consequences for the crew:

The Big 12 Conference acknowledges that officiating errors were made at the end of regulation during last night’s Kansas at Iowa State men’s basketball game. The plays have been reviewed and appropriate measures will be taken by the Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials to adjust the number of future assignments for the two officials involved in conjunction with Conference policies.

The officiating crew committed a series of gaffes — including with 23 seconds left in regulation, mistakenly assigning a foul to Kevin Young that obviously should have been the fifth charged to Kansas center Jeff Withey. The Jayhawks 7-footer actually walked toward his bench after intentionally fouling Korie Lucious in the backcourt, but from a few steps away Young raised his hand and fooled the refs. (Brent Musburger’s take on the ESPN broadcast: “I mean, Jeff Withey thinks, ‘Look what I found! I’m in the NBA tonight. I got the six-foul rule!”)

The most debated and egregious officiating error came during the possession on which Kansas’ Elijah Johnson tied the game with 4.3 seconds left. The point guard not only ran over ISU’s Georges Niang, waiting in perfect defensive position a step outside the charge arc, but then Johnson collected the missed rebound while lying atop Niang on the floor (his right hand apparently out of bounds). Next came a questionable holding foul on Niang as he and Young tangled.

ESPN color commentator Fran Frischilla offered some blunt criticism: “This was either a block or a charge. That has to be called. That has to be called in that situation. Don’t tell me that the players decide the game. He decided it by stepping in.”

“I think (Niang was) solid, and I think that’s a charge. But more importantly the official must blow his whistle and call it either a block or a charge. There’s no excuse for letting that much contact go on a play like that.”

Kansas subsequently won 108-96 in OT and Johnson finished with 39 points — 12 coming after his collision with Niang. Let’s see what sort of transparency the Big 12 displays in addressing this matter, if indeed we learn anything further about the “future assignments” for the Battlefield Ames refs.


1. Kansas (24-4, 12-3)
2. Oklahoma State (20-6, 10-4)
3. Kansas State (23-5, 12-3)
4. Iowa State (19-9, 9-6)
5. Oklahoma (18-8, 9-5)
6. Baylor (16-11, 7-7)
7. West Virginia (13-14, 6-8)
8. Texas (12-15, 4-10)
9. Texas Tech (9-17, 2-13)
10. TCU (10-17, 1-13)

The top five teams above are comfortably in the field today, and the Cyclones and Sooners would need to lose out to squander their bids.

Though Baylor was picked second in the Big 12 preseason poll, the Bears have been maddeningly inconsistent and aren’t currently worthy of an at-large bid at No. 61 in the RPI. Home games against K-State and Kansas can help the rating, though not if Baylor stumbles in its road games at WVU and Texas.


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  • BU

    Ive seen worst officiating at WVU games....refs make the mistake of calling what they anitcipate seeing instead of the reality of what is really happening. WVU gets killed on officiating usually, Kilicli especially-some calls against him are ridiculous. too badd this year were so badd it dosent matter.

    • Shadow

      Last night's game was a good example of some bad calls. It only takes one to change the character of the game. However, those folks that criticize the team forget this is a young team and I think they are working hard to improve their abilities and their intensity. Just remember, a few of them are just young men growing up.

  • Scott

    We thought big east refs were bad, but they are way better than big 12 refs. I guess we didn't realize it. But Kansas has always been protected, and always will in this conference, so new fans better be ready for it. Just a fact, after watching college bb for 50 years

  • Jim Hess

    My opinion of Big 12 officiating all season long is that it's been mediocre compared to Big East officiating that we've been used to.

  • rtdeco

    i've never thought this before about a wvu team...but this team has not earned any post season for play or other. the benefit of additional practices would be offset by the caliber of play on the court.

  • Larry

    With a win tonight, there is an outside chance that WVU will qualify for the MIT-Mediocre Invitational Tournament!

    • Jim

      This WVU team doesn't deserve to go to any post season tournament.