John Adams, the NCAA’s coordinator of men’s basketball officials, on Friday said official Doug Sirmons made the correct foul call on UCLA’s Malcolm Lee with 0.7 seconds left in Kansas University’s 77-76 victory over the Bruins on Thursday night in Allen Fieldhouse.
The whistle sent Mario Little to the free-throw line for his game-winning free throw.
“The refs reacted properly,” Adams said in an interview with ESPN’s Andy Katz. “The only argument you can make is whether or not it was a foul. It’s a foul. The Kansas kid has control of the ball. It’s incredibly unfortunate to end the game like that. But I’ve looked at the tape and Doug called the foul like he’s supposed to.”
Lee bumped Little as the KU senior hoisted an off-balance 15-foot shot that barely beat the buzzer.
“It’s dangerous to read into every play in the game to see time, score and circumstances,” Adams told Katz. “If the kid has possession and gets fouled, it’s a foul. It’s incredibly unfortunate that it was at the expiration of time. In the old days you would walk away (because time appeared to have expired). But in this time we have the video to check on the monitor to see if there was time left on the clock (and there was).”
UCLA coach Ben Howland on Thursday night said it “was really, really a poor way to end a game on a call.”
KU coach Bill Self on Thursday indicated he hadn’t yet seen the tape but that Little told him a foul had been committed.
On Friday, Self told the Journal-World that he “saw the film, but I will not comment publicly on that.”
He was asked if it was the craziest conclusion to a game in his 18 years as a head coach.
“No, no. We’ve had wilder endings,” Self said. “We made it interesting for sure.”
He was displeased with KU’s play down the stretch. The Jayhawks led by seven points with 2:52 left and by six points at 2:08.
“We played poorly. We didn’t play with much energy,” Self said. “We had a couple individuals play well offensively, not defensively.”
Asked who made the difference for the Jayhawks in the team’s 64th straight homecourt victory, he said: “The fans made the difference because we didn’t play very well at all.”
Self took part in a 15-minute ESPN.com chat on Friday in advance of Tuesday’s Jimmy V. Classic game against Memphis (6 p.m., New York’s Madison Square Garden).
He was asked about KU’s 16-of-30 free throw shooting performance against the Bruins.
“I’m not a guy that talks about free throws a lot, but I will tell you that we will work on it,” Self said during the chat. “The problems are the mechanics and you can change that. We won’t dwell on it too much because if you do, it can have a negative effect on the player but we will work on it.”
Asked about KU’s strengths and weaknesses through seven games — all victories — Self said: “I think we’ve scored pretty easily and percentage-wise have shot the ball well (56.9 percent to foes’ 37.6). We need to get better in toughness type of plays and play more aggressive on defense.”
KU finishes series 3-1: KU completed play in the Big 12-Pac-10 Hardwood series with a 3-1 record. The Jayhawks split a two-year series with Arizona and went 2-0 versus UCLA.
The series runs out after this year and according to Big 12 Conference officials, will not continue because the Pac-10 wanted future games to be played at neutral sites. The Big 12 wants the games on campus.
“Personally we’ve always been in favor of it (series),” said KU schedule-maker Larry Keating. “It helps both conferences in getting good matchups. We (Big 12) were playing 12 games (a year) against good, quality BCS teams.
“We (Jayhawks) played teams we’d like to play and probably would have a chance to play anyway, but it helped teams in both leagues that had trouble getting quality teams to come to their building.”
KU, which has had a good relationship with the Pac-10, will likely extend a two-year home-and-home with Southern California to a four-year series. USC will visit KU on Dec. 18. The Jayhawks will return the trip next year.
“We had a discussion, not finalized either way, of going to a four-year deal — the middle two years — next year and the following year as our next Pac-10 Challenge games,” Keating said. “If it is not going forward, we’ll probably still play. If it happens, they’d come back in 2012 and we’d go there in 2013. We like it for recruiting purposes and we have a great fan base in California as well as Arizona and Nevada.”