Irate Boeheim tossed after key call in nip-and-tuck game

Feb. 22, 2014 @ 10:45 PM

Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim brought Syracuse into Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first time Saturday night.

He didn’t stick around to see the ending.

Boeheim was ejected with 10.4 seconds left after disputing a block/charge call that went against star C.J. Fair. The ensuing technical foul shots sealed No. 5 Duke’s 66-60 win over the top-ranked Orange.

“I just thought it was the worst call of the year, that’s all,” said Boeheim, who said he had never been ejected in 1,260 previous games. “I just hate to see the game decided on that call.”

Syracuse was down 60-58 when Fair beat his defender, Tyler Thornton, from the left wing and drove down the baseline. He was met by Rodney Hood, who was playing help defense. Fair made a lay-up but the basket was waived off when Fair was whistled for a charge.

The call by Tony Greene, who officiated the most recent NCAA championship game, sent Boeheim into a rage. After a series of expletives, Greene called two technical fouls on the Syracuse coach, who was escorted off the court by police officers.

“The new rule is it’s a block,” Boeheim said. “It’s been explained a hundred times. C.J. got in his motion — I’ve seen the replay — and the guy was moving. Simple as that. It’s the new rule. It’s a block. I wanted to see if I still had it in me to get out there, and I did. I was quick, I stayed down, and I didn’t get injured, so all those things are good.”

Even after the call, Duke would have had to make some pressure free throws to clinch the win, and Jabari Parker and Rasheed Sulaimon had combined to make just 1 of 3 from the line on the previous two possessions. But the technical fouls on Boeheim made that a moot point. Quinn Cook made three of the four after the ejection, and Tyler Thornton made two more after he was fouled on the ensuing inbounds to put Duke up 64-58.

“I kind of thought we would lose that game (at that point)” Boeheim said. “I don’t know if I was really thinking that much at the time, but I thought that was the game-decider.”

Not surprisingly, the two players involved had opposite thoughts on the call, though neither Hood nor Fair had seen a replay yet.

When Fair initially saw Greene make a hand gesture, he assumed the ref was saying, “count it.”

“I went in for the drive,” Fair said. “And from my angle, I thought he kind of met me there as I was taking off, so I didn’t think he was really set waiting for me for it to be a charge.”

Hood said he knew Fair was going to get the ball, and he made sure to keep an eye on the ACC preseason player of the year during the possession.

“I thought I was there,” Hood said. “I stepped over before he got in stride I think. … I stood there and took it. He didn’t stop. He ran right in to me, so I think it was a charge. They called a charge so it was a charge.”

Hood was involved in a disputed call with 13 seconds left in overtime three weeks ago in Syracuse, when he was contacted by Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas on a dunk attempt. No foul was called, and the Orange won 91-89.

That first meeting, which Sulaimon extended with a buzzer-beating 3 at the end of regulation, was called one of the best games in college basketball this year. Saturday’s rematch may live in people’s memory even longer.

“People will remember this one for 30 years because the old coach went out there and got a little excited,” Boeheim said. “I think the fans will remember Jim Boeheim down here.”