Was the goaltending call correct in UCLA’s win vs. SMU?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — UCLA beat SMU, 60-59, today in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 64. The Bruins finished the game on an 8-0 run — with those last three points coming when Yanick Moreira got called for goaltending on Bryce Alford’s long 3-point attempt.

Did officials make the right decision?

From the NCAA men’s basketball rules book, this is Rule 9, Section 17, Article 3:

Goaltending occurs when a defensive player touches the ball during a field-goal try and each of the following conditions is met:

1. The ball is on its downward flight; and
2. The ball is above the level of the ring and has the possibility, while in flight, of entering the basket and is not touching the cylinder.

From what I saw live and from looking again at the footage, Alford’s shot looked like it was about to hit the rim. Moreira then jumped up and tipped it before it did, however, which resulted in the call. The shot didn’t look like it had the “possibility … of entering the basket,” but the officials also could have applied a basketball interference rule. The latter only requires that Moreira touched “the ball while any part of it is within the cylinder that has the ring as its lower base.”

Here was what official Sean Hull said after the game: “The call is goaltending and isn’t reviewable. We gave the rule number and the article. Why we went to the monitor was to determine if the basket was a three or a tow. Under two minutes by rule, we have a directive to do that. At the table it was confirmed that it was a three, and we put the ball back in play.”

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UCLA survives against SMU thanks to Bryce Alford, goaltending call

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For about nine minutes, UCLA’s season looked dead. Bryce Alford somehow powered it back to life.

In a wild 60-59 win against sixth-seeded SMU on Thursday afternoon, the Bruins took a 10-point lead in the second half, gave up 19 unanswered points — and then survived on a flurry of 3-pointers by their sophomore point guard.

Alford scored a game-high 27 points, hitting an absurd 9 of 11 on 3-point attempts. He had four treys in the final four minutes — and didn’t even technically sink the one that counted the most.

With 13 seconds left, Alford launched a shot from the left arc, one that looked on track to hit the front of the rim. But SMU big man Yanick Moreira jumped up and tipped the shot too early. He was called for goaltending, and the points counted.

The Mustangs had a chance to come back, but point guard Nic Moore missed back-to-back attempts from beyond the arc. The clock expired, and the Bruins mobbed Alford at midcourt. Continue reading

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UCLA could face UAB again after Blazers upset Iowa State

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The biggest upset in March Madness might bode well for UCLA.

No. 14-seeded UAB knocked off third-seeded Iowa State on Thursday, stunning just about anyone that had even passing familiarity with the current college basketball hierarchy. The Blazers entered the game as a 14.5-point underdog. They were ranked on kenpom.com as the 10th-weakest team in the NCAA Tournament field. They had not won outside Birmingham since Jan. 31, clinching an automatic bid by winning the C-USA title just two miles from their home arena.

And somehow, they upset the Cyclones despite shooting below 36 percent.

UAB played better than it did the last time it saw UCLA in November, but this is still a team that the Bruins handled by 12 points at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. If the No. 11-seed Bruins get past sixth-seeded SMU today, they could be set up for a second straight Sweet 16 run.

– Kevon Looney is likely in the twilight of his UCLA career. Was he used to his potential as a Bruin?
– From columnist Mark Whicker, a look at winding career of SMU coach Larry Brown.

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At a glance: No. 11-seed UCLA vs. No. 6-seed SMU

No. 11-seed UCLA (20-13) vs. No. 6-seed SMU (27-6)
Thursday, March 19, 12:10 p.m. PT (approximate start)
KFC Yum! Center (Louisville, Ky.)
NCAA Tournament — South Regional
TV: truTV (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)
Radio: AM 1150 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

Scouting report: There is good and bad that comes with Larry Brown — the good being that he is a very good basketball coach, and the bad being that he’s not likely to stick around very long. And for college programs, there’s the ugly too: NCAA violations tend to follow him.

Though his degree of involvement varied in the two cases — Brown essentially told Grantland he was in the wrong place at the wrong time in regards to UCLA’s vacated 1980 runner-up finish — the 74-year-old left both the Bruins and Kansas with sanctions in his wake. That might happen again at SMU, his third collegiate stop and the 13th team he has coached in his career.

On the court, there’s little disputing what Brown has done for the Mustangs. Before he was hired in 2012, SMU went 13-19 and ranked 281st and 121st nationally in offensive and defensive efficiency, respectively. The team had significantly improved by his second season, going 27-10 for a runner-up finish in the NIT after being snubbed from the Big Dance.

This year, the Mustangs are back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993. In the aforementioned efficiency statistics, they now rank 25th (offense) and 42nd (defense) in the country. Although they don’t have any standout wins, all but one of their losses have come against tournament teams. The exception is an 81-73 loss at UConn on March 1, one it avenged two weeks later in the AAC title game.

With a deep, capable frontline that can rebound and defend the rim as well as most teams in the country — as well as a capable point guard in Nic Moore, the AAC Player of the Year — SMU is a team without many glaring weaknesses. Three of five starters are transfers, perhaps a testament to Brown’s ability to develop players that others once overlooked.

It’s fair to wonder how long this rise might last. Continue reading

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