Officials John Higgins, Thomas O’Neill and Michael Nance made their presence known during Syracuse’s 77-70 loss to Ohio State in the NCAA East Region Final.
The three officials blew their whistles a combined 49 times, 29 on Syracuse and 20 on the Buckeyes. It resulted in 42 trips to the line for Ohio State and 25 for the Orange.
When asked about the officiating in the game, Syracuse senior guard Scoop Jardine simply congratulated the Buckeyes.
“Without the referees they played a good game, and that’s all I’ve got to say about that,” Jardine said. “We’re not going to blame it on the refs.”
James Southerland, Aaron Kraft and Dion Waiters all fouled out. Baye Keita, Rakeem Christmas and CJ Fair each had four fouls. Besides Kraft, no other OSU player had more than three fouls.
Even SU coach Jim Boeheim picked up a foul—of the technical variety—after arguing a charging call assessed to Brandon Triche toward the end of the first half. Boeheim was not given an explanation from O’Neill.
“First one in about three years, I think,” Boeheim said.
The last time was actually on Nov. 21, 2010.
“[The foul] was assessed for being out of the coach’s box and gesturing about a call,” Higgins said in a statement after the game. He added that O’Neill said, “That was the third or fourth time, and I said ‘enough.'”
As for Boeheim’s thoughts on the officiating?
“No comment,” he said.
Even with all of the whistles, Syracuse had a shot to win the game. Despite being down by 10 in the second half, Syracuse cut the lead to a single point on two occasions, and was within three points with under a minute to go.
“I think we had a chance to win the game no matter what, with the refs or without them giving us any calls,” Jardine said. “I want to give Ohio State a lot of credit. They won the game.”
Corey Mallonee contributed with reporting from Boston.Wesley Cheng