Aaron Craft's game-winning shot wasn't the only play he made that had everyone talking after Ohio State edged Iowa State in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Not long before his game-winning shot, the junior guard was involved in a controversial play that left some, notably Charles Barkley, thinking that the refs had robbed the Cyclones of a spot in the Sweet 16.
With Iowa State leading 75-74 with just 1:41 remaining, Cyclones guard Will Clyburn drove past Sam Thompson and Deshaun Thomas toward the rim. While in the air, Clyburn collided with Craft, who had positioned himself in his path. The driving shot dropped through the net, a whistle sounded. To the dismay of Clyburn and Iowa State, an offensive foul was called on the play. Rather than calling a block and sending Clyburn to the line to add to the ISU advantage, officials waived off the basket and gave the ball to Ohio State. The Buckeyes would tie the game on the ensuing possession and Craft would eventually hit the game-winner in the final second.
"I feel bad because the referees blew the call plain and simple," Barkley said after the game during the postgame studio coverage on CBS. Like many, Barkley believed that officials should have called a blocking foul against Craft rather than a charge on Clyburn.
Replays showed that Craft's right heel was hovering above the line (or very, very, very close to it) marking the area beneath the rim where players are restricted from taking a charge.
CLICK HERE to watch video of the controversial play
Here is a look at Craft's feet during the play that was tweeted by USA Today Sports:
Even if the officials did get the call wrong, Craft and Ohio State still needed to capitalize on the opportunity presented them. They did. After the call went against Clyburn, Iowa State committed a foul on Craft, turned over the ball, failed to secure a key defensive rebound and then surrendered the game-winning shot.
After the game, NCAA national coordinator of men's basketball officiating John Adam spoke to reporters about the call.
“I spoke with the official, and he determined the defender established legal guarding position outside the restricted area prior to the offensive player leaving the floor to start his shot," Adams told reporters in Dayton, via CBSSports.com. "When asked, the official said he did not see the defender's foot over the restricted area line. By rule, this is not a reviewable play.”
MORE FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Iowa State's Will Clyburn won't dispute a late charge call in the Cyclones' 78-75 loss to Ohio State in the NCAA tournament.
Clyburn was called for a charge when he ran into Buckeyes point guard Aaron Craft near the basket with 1:41 to go Sunday. Replays showed Craft's right heel was at the semicircle restricting the area where players can take a charge.
It wasn't Iowa State's only problem. The Cyclones had a turnover and knocked the ball out of bounds trying for a rebound, giving Ohio State a chance for Craft's winning 3-pointer with a half-second left.
Clyburn couldn't tell where Craft was set up and wouldn't second-guess the call. The NCAA says the official decided Craft established position outside the semicircle. The play is not reviewable.