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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Miller: Referees ruined the Pac-12 “game of the year”


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It was a game that was dubbed as the Pac-12 “Game of the Year,” it was a battle of top-15 teams and it was Senior Night honoring the players that have helped revitalize a program.

The stakes were high, the crowd was amped and then the game was… well, it was tarnished.


For brief moments during Arizona’s 63-57 win over Utah we saw what it could have been, no, what it should have been — big time threes, slick drives and big defensive stands. The rest of the game (which sadly represented most of it) was filled with whistles, free throws and the image of the officials staring endlessly at the scorer’s table monitor.

Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said postgame that it was a great college basketball game.

No, Coach. It wasn’t, but it really should have been.

For the first time this season, and possibly this century, the Huntsman Center was full before tip-off. Emotional tributes to seniors Dallin Bachynski and Delon Wright were shown, glow sticks sparkled through the arena during intros and the crowd was fired up.

The fans knew the importance, they were ready for a bruising battle, but then the whistles came. Call after call was made and by halftime 25 fouls had been whistled. Things didn’t get much better in the second half either, as the refs added 21 more to their tally.

It became exhausting.

You know how the last minute of a basketball game can become excruciating with the constant fouling as one team desperately, and most of the time unsuccessfully, tries to give themselves a chance to catch up? Well, those watching Utah and Arizona got to experience that for nearly an entire game. Ladies and gentleman, your 2015 Pac-12 “Game of the Year.”

Anytime a player got touched, breathed on, hell, had somebody make a movement resembling a guarding position towards them, a whistle was blown. The game soon turned into a parade to the free-throw line, to the chagrin of pretty much everyone.

“It seemed like everything was a foul, every little bump,” Wright said.

He wasn’t wrong.

And it wasn’t just one way, both teams had their fair share of what-the-hell calls go against them and the frustration slowly built. It simply killed every little bit of momentum to the contest.

All the whistles and all the fouls made the game move at a snail’s pace. There was hardly any offensive rhythm from either side and a game that some students spent close to 48 hours waiting in line for, turned to something that was being endured, not enjoyed.

It’s a shame really. After weeks of anticipation, three men in striped jerseys decided to put their stamp on the game, and then do it over and over and over again.

“I don’t think we have fouled that much all year,” Krystkowiak said. “That’s what made it difficult. It’s hard to find your rhythm on a game like that.”

It made it difficult to watch too. With a little luck, Arizona and Utah will match up one last time in the Pac-12 Tournament championship game.

Hopefully then fans will get to see that “great” game we all waited, and are still waiting, for.

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