It didn’t take long for conference basketball play to heat to a fever pitch. Thursday night in Tucson, Colorado did everything but take down third-ranked and unbeaten Arizona.
In fact, Tad Boyle, the CU coach, isn’t sure the Buffaloes didn’t. And if you saw the replays of the controversial finish to regulation in a game won in overtime by Arizona, you might agree.
The Buffs, who led virtually the entire game, blew a lead down the stretch and had the ball with nine seconds left and the game tied. Guard Sabatino Chen wove to the top of the three-point arc and cast off just as the clock was expiring and banked it in, and CU players rushed the floor.
ESPN.com quoted Boyle as saying that the officials signaled the basket good, but naturally, it had to be reviewed on the courtside TV monitor.
A TV replay from behind Sabatino showed how close the call was. I thought it appeared he got the shot off in time, but the ball was no more than, say, 6-18 inches from his hand — if that — when the clock hit zeroes. This was one in which reasonable minds might differ, but if it was a matter of splitting hairs and the call was originally made to allow the basket, it should have stood. No wonder Boyle was so incensed when ESPN.com’s Andy Katz reached him after he saw the replay.
Meanwhile, Arizona Daily Star reporter Bruce Pascoe tweeted that an Arizona official told him that the Pac-12 installed a new video system this year, so officials aren’t looking at the same replay we might be seeing on TV.
For the Wildcats, it was one more hair-raising finish to its so-far spotless season; the Wildcats earlier had one-point wins over Florida and San Diego State. In the larger picture, this appears to mean Boyle has assembled another club in Boulder to be reckoned with.