Texas drops stunner

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:52 PM ET

There are heartbreaking losses and then there’s what happened to Cory Joseph and the Texas Longhorns on Sunday night.

Up by two with the ball, just a handful of seconds to go and a trip to the Sweet 16 all but locked up, Joseph, unable to find an open teammate, was denied a timeout by the referee.

Joseph, of Pickering, Ont., called for time before the referee reached his five count, but was denied. An unconfirmed report suggested there is an inane and idiotic NCAA rule that forbids timeouts from being called once a ref hits a four-count – or, exactly the time 90% of clutch timeouts are necessary.

Following that shocking turn of events, star Arizona forward Derrick Williams hit a layup and a foul shot sending Arizona through to a meeting with defending champion Duke.

Canada now has an unfortunate tournament non-timeout to call its own, hopefully Joseph’s doesn’t live on in infamy the way Chris Webber’s faux pas years ago has.

It was a crushing end to an excellent 28-8 season for the Longhorns. Brampton’s Tristan Thompson had previously come up with two huge defensive stands – a block and a shot-alteration on Williams, the potential top five NBA pick – giving Texas and his good friend Joseph the ball back.

Texas had valiantly battled back from a 36-25 halftime deficit, taking its first lead since early on with just a couple of minutes remaining.

While not nearly as dominant as in his last outing, Thompson was once again a difference-maker on defence, collecting three blocks to go with his six rebounds and three points.

Double-teamed, Thompson could not get anything going offensively and was in foul trouble for much of the night.

Joseph scored six points and added four assists along with solid defence of his own.

But it wasn’t enough, as Williams, the NCAA leader in free throw attempts, drew the crucial and-one to decide the game. Williams finished with 17 points – 14 in the second half after Thompson bottled him up early – and eight rebounds.

Poor shot selection hurt Texas at times with Jordan Hamilton, an NBA prospect himself, the main culprit. Hamilton tried to force the issue too much and finished 7-18 from the field with three turnovers.

After the latest in a long line of tournament flameouts, Texas coach Rick Barnes took the high road about the timeout controversy and looked forward to what could be a stacked team next season if Thompson and Hamilton don’t leave for the NBA.

“We’ve had a tremendous year, they played their hearts out, but it didn’t happen,” Barnes told sideline reporter Craig Sager.

“Fact is I’m disappointed for the guys, life throws you some bad pitches sometimes, it will come back to you down the line.”

Thompson had said on Saturday that he planned to return to Texas because close friend and top recruit Myck Kabongo of Toronto will be joining the team next season.

“I’m coming back for another year,” Thompson told reporters on Saturday.

“I’ve already signed up for summer classes, so I got to be going to school there.”

Barnes certainly hopes so.

“It’s a part of life, there’s some bigger things out there for these guys and this team, guys coming back, I just love this team,” he said.

“It’s a tough time, but we’ve got to move on, it’s over. Sometimes it goes that way.”

Moving on for Joseph surely will be more difficult than for anybody though. It’s a shame an overzealous referee brought that upon the young man, but the future remains bright for Texas and its ever-expanding Canadian contingent.

Even if it doesn’t feel that way at the moment.


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