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On the officiating...

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You can read Matt’s full thought on today’s loss tomorrow morning. For now, a soliloquy on officiating.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Missouri Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

Like Sam, I hate carping on officials, who are basically underpaid part-time employees jetting around and doing the best they can. How the NCAA hasn’t centralized training, continuing education, reviews and assignment officiating crews is beyond me. Meantime, I tend to think fans overreact to the impact crews can have on outcomes night in and night out across the sport.

Then there are days like Saturday’s Missouri-Florida game, where fans can reasonably point to whistles directly impacting the outcome.

Let’s go to the replays, shall we?

Here is the fourth foul called on Jontay Porter.

And the fifth whistled on Jeremiah Tilmon.

The practical impact of these calls isn’t just free throws. They took MU’s best big men out of a game where an average UF frontcourt—one that’s been abused by the likes of Gonzaga and Florida State— hung with Mizzou on the glass (minus-2) and the Gators outscored the Tigers by six in the paint.

Interior defense took a hit. Roughly a third of Florida’s shots came at the rim — slightly more than its season average, per Hoop Math — and 22 of its 26 paint points were on layups. No, Florida didn’t pile up a huge advantage, but those points mattered on a day when the Gators weren’t quite as dialed in from the 3-point .arcAt the other end, Mizzou didn’t truly have a scoring option in the paint. While Jontay Porter does set up shop on the block, the freshman is just as likely to operate from the elbow or at the top of the arc as a screener and spacer.

As for Tilmon, he doesn’t just snare direct entry passes. He’s a dump-off option in the short corner and a solid cutter in the pick-and-roll. He can also subsist on stick backs. With the freshmen parked on the bench, Mizzou’s already 3-point dependent offense becomes slightly more reliant on perimeter shooting.

Unlike the next call, the impact of the whistle was cumulative when it came to rebounding, interior defense and the structure of the offense.

And so we come to this.

There’s a lot to digest.

  • The official in question, Olandis Poole, starts to call the foul before Robertson’s closeout is in the same ZIP code as Jalen Hudson.
  • The defender must be allowed airspace to land on said closeout.
  • Hudson whiffs on his Reggie Miller-inspired leg kick.

Hudson drained two free throws, drawing the Gators even at 75-75 and setting the stage for Chiozza’s heroics. Objectively, you can’t defend the call. It’s bad. It came during a game full of questionable calls. And during a week when the SEC went out of its way to tout its new centralized replay hub in Birmingham.

You have every right to be irked. A phantom call put Mizzou was put in a situation where it had to execute in an ATO situation without a proven point guard. There’s a clear difference between icing a win at the free-throw line and having to generate a final shot.