Having lost two of its previous three games, Clemson could have used a monumental road win over Duke last week. And the Tigers should have had it. Duke blew a five-point lead in the final 13 seconds only to win 68-66 on David McClure’s buzzer-beating layup after a painfully ugly timing error by officials.
Clemson’s Vernon Hamilton hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left but 4.4 seconds were put on the clock after a review by officials.
The mistake was so blatant that John Clougherty, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s coordinator of basketball officials, actually admitted the error later in the week.
“It’s one of those magical nights at Cameron (Indoor Stadium),” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said afterward.
The loss, combined with a 64-63 home defeat at the hands of Virginia, knocked Clemson, which has lost four of five after winning its first 17, from 19th to 25th in the most recent AP poll. Duke climbed from 10th to eighth.
An officiating blunder back in September likely cost Oklahoma a shot at football’s BCS national championship and helped propel Oregon to a Las Vegas Bowl berth.
This error will probably not have such long-lasting impact since, well, college basketball has an inclusive season-ending championship tournament.
Maybe that’s why Clemson coach Oliver Purnell handled the mistake with so much more class than certain members of Oklahoma’s athletic department.
“I think mistakes were made, and I don’t think anybody made a mistake thinking that, ‘We’re going to help Duke win,’ or that kind of thing,” he told the Greenville (S.C.) News.
“Again, mistakes were made and we were disadvantaged. Things happen sometimes.”
There wasn’t a lid on Southern California’s basket on Thursday, it just seemed like it.
The Trojans hit just 19-of-67 shots (28.4 percent) as they were manhandled and intimidated by Stanford’s frontcourt trio of seven-foot freshman twins Brook and Robin Lopez and Glendale Deer Valley alum Law Hill, which blocked 19 shots in a 65-50 win.
Brook swatted 12 shots himself en route to the first tripledouble in program history.
The Cardinal followed that win up with a 75-68 win over UCLA. The consecutive wins over ranked opponents landed Stanford back in the Top 25 for the first time this season.
All of a sudden, the 23 rd - ranked Cardinal, which was not highly regarded entering the season, is one game behind the conference leaders.
Stanford hosts Gonzaga tonight and will look to restore a bit of the conference pride that was squandered by Arizona in its home beat-down at the hands of North Carolina.
“Obviously, we’re pretty happy and we have a lot to be happy about,” second-year coach Trent Johnson said.
IONA STILL WINLESS
It just keeps getting worse for Iona, which hasn’t won a game since clinching an NCAA tournament berth by winning its conference tourney last March.
The Gaels lost their 21 st game of the season on Monday to break the school record for most losses in a season. They are the only winless team in Division I.
It would be one thing if Iona was not competitive, but their losses have been about as excruciating as they come. During a recent four-game stretch, Iona lost three times in overtime and once in regulation by a single point.
The Gaels graduated three starting guards from the team that gave Louisiana State a scare in the first round last March and then lost its two most experienced players to injury earlier this season.
“It’s very frustrating,” said coach Jeff Ruland, who averaged 17 wins per season in his first eight years at Iona, told The Associated Press. “But you try to learn from it.”
THE OTHER SIDE
Defending Division II champion Winona (Minn.) State stretched its winning streak to 41 games Sunday. The Warriors haven’t lost since Jan. 7 of last year and their streak doesn’t even include exhibition wins over Division I opponents Drake and Minnesota.
The team has to be considered at least a minor threat to the Division II record of 52-straight wins set by Langston (Okla.) from 1943-46. To tie the record, Winona State would have to remain undefeated through its conference tournament.
The last word
“You’ll see (football coach) Jim Tressel doing that before you see me doing that. That’s what the chances are.”
OHIO STATE COACH, WHEN ASKED IF THERE WAS A CHANCE HE’D FOLLOW THE LEAD OF TENNESSEE’S BRUCE PEARL AND SHOW UP FOR A BUCKEYE WOMEN’S GAME WEARING NOTHING BUT SHORTS AND BODY PAINT
Due to the Pac-10’s rule barring partial academic qualifiers, Rodney Stuckey of Seattle took his game to Eastern Washington and has blossomed into a likely NBA lottery pick. The 6-foot-5 sophomore guard has averaged 25 points a game and isn’t simply piling it on Big Sky teams. In road games against likely tournament teams Gonzaga, UNLV and Washington this season, Stuckey scored 18, 25 and 31, respectively. Eastern Washington struggled to an 8-20 record while Stuckey focused on academics as a redshirting freshman. With Stuckey on the floor the last two seasons, the team has gone 26-26.
Oregon at UCLA, 8:30 p.m. Thursday on FSN Arizona. The second half of the Pac-10 season will tip off with a doozy when the conference co-leaders square off in Los Angeles. The No. 9 Ducks handed No. 5 UCLA its first loss of the season back on Jan. 6 in Eugene. Aaron Brooks, the Pac-10’s leading scorer at 19.1 points per game, scored 25 points and hit the game-winner with 13 seconds to play in that 68-66 thriller.
Virginia trailed Clemson by 16 points with just over eight minutes last week before pulling out a 64-63 road win that somehow vaulted the team more than 20 spots in the RPI rankings. The victory capped a four-game ACC winning streak that has helped counteract the effects of a previous three-game skid. The Cavaliers (13-6, 5-2 in ACC) have nonconference home wins over Arizona and Gonzaga, but have also played a Division II school and five out-of-conference teams with RPI rankings lower than 200 with woeful Longwood still to come. With such a strange schedule, Virginia could be a tough team to slot come Selection Sunday.
Our top seeds: North Carolina (19-2), UCLA (18-2), Wisconsin (21-1) and Florida (19-2)