The Refs Are All Right: Reviewing the Officiating of Purdue vs. OSU

So, about last night. That was one hell of a game, and against the odds it was a matchup of equals. Purdue and Ohio State both shot the lights out, especially on three-pointers, and the lead changed hands all night long. I was fortunate enough to have a ticket to the game, and any misgivings about the game starting so late (9:11 PM? Really, ESPN?) were soon forgotten. It was an supremely enjoyable game, and was anxious to see how Purdue and Ohio State fans reacted to the game. Ohio State fans were concerned but relieved, and Purdue fans were disappointed but encouraged that they had hung so tough with the #3 team in the country in such an even contest, and... huh?

We showed a lot of fight last night and we win that game without a huge assist from the refs.

This did not sit right with me. You may be wondering about my bias, and you'd be right: I am an Ohio State fan, albeit one with a Purdue alumnus for a mother. Sadly, we Ohio State fans have earned the ignoble reputation of being obnoxious and disliked, and I can see how how going onto a Purdue site after a painful loss to tell them they're wrong to complain about something could go over poorly. But my gut told me that the officiating wasn't so bad, and with the Author/Editor/Founder/DictatorForLife's encouragement, here is a review of every personal foul and notable no-call in the game. Calls are graded as Legit, Probably Legit, Questionable, Probably Bad, and Bad. If you would like to follow along, see here and here.

First Half:

18:20: Kelsey Barlow pushes off on Aaron Craft for an offensive foul. Legit call.

18:02: Travis Carroll pushes Jared Sullinger. Legit call, although in very physical games refs might not call it.

15:34: Jacob Lawson tips the ball out of bounds. Potential over the back not called on him. Probably legit no-call.

15:10: Sullinger hooks the defender, with no foul. Bad no-call, the second worst of the game for Purdue.

14:21: Craft is fouled on a drive, and makes the layup. Legit call.

13:40: Jostling between two players at free throw line, no foul. Legit no-call, but in a touchy game the referees could reasonably call a foul on either.

12:59: Lewis Jackson drives to basket, foul on Deshaun Thomas. Weak contact, but a probably legit call.

12:15: Jostling between Sullinger and Lawson. Foul could be called on Lawson, but isn't. Probably legit no-call.

12:02: Jackson drives, Sullinger called for a bump. Legit call.

11:05: Craft runs into Jackson's screen, no foul. Legit call, though a foul could be called in a touchy game.

10:51: Hummel bumped by Thomas at top of key with 2 on shot clock. The bump is pretty weak, but it's there. Legit call.

9:23: Craft sets screen for Sullinger, Lawson called for foul trying to fight through. Legit call.

9:12: D. J. Byrd drives, makes contact with William Buford. No call; this could either go as no foul or a foul on Buford. Probably legit no-call.

8:35: Robbie Hummel bowls over Evan Ravenel on a drive. No foul; probably bad call.

7:53: Sullinger driving in transition, Ryne Smith called for blocking foul. Legit call.

7:40: Kelsey Barlow makes a pretty good play. No foul here, just thought you'd enjoy seeing the play again.

6:14: Ravenel blocks dunk attempt by Sandi Marcius, foul on Ravenel. Legit call; Ravenel got the ball but bodied Marcius.

4:37: Lenzelle Smith Jr. called for reach-in. I couldn't see it from the video, but it seemed like a legit call in person.

4:06: Craft rebounds Hummel miss, reach-in on Terone Johnson. Legit call.

3:05: Byrd knocks ball out of J.D. Weatherspoon's hands, reach-in foul. Legit call.

2:33: Jackson called for reach-in on Lenzelle Smith drive. Probably legit call, but Lenzelle Smith embellishes contact after the whistle.

2:20: Hummel goes over the back, no foul. Probably bad call.

1:42: Jackson bumps Weatherspoon on an alley-oop attempt, foul called. Probably bad call; it would have had no effect on the alley-oop because the pass was so bad.

0:56: Jackson stripped of the ball on drive by Craft, no foul called. Legit no-call.

0:46: Hummel fouled on three-pointer by Sullinger. Probably legit call, but I didn't see him hit Hummel's arm. Maybe Sullinger stepped on his foot?

0:33: Terone Johnson pushes Buford on drive. Legit call. End of the first half.

Second Half:

19:52: Barlow drives for layup, Craft called for reach-in. Probably a bad call, I saw no contact.

18:49: Byrd tangles with Lenzelle Smith after rebound, called for foul. Legit call.

18:33: Buford makes layup. Contact, no foul called. Probably legit call.

18:07: Sullinger drives, blocking foul on Anthony Johnson. Questionable call.

17:56: Reach-in on Craft on Barlow drive. Couldn't see, but probably legit call.

17:26: Contact between Anthony Johnson & Thomas on jumper, no call. Legit no-call.

16:12: Sullinger moving in post; blocking foul on Carroll, who is shuffling his feet. Legit call.

15:19: Byrd hits three-pointer, is run into by Lenzelle Smith with no call. Bad no-call.

14:30: Lenzelle Smith gets offensive rebound and there is lots of contact on his put back attempt, no call. Probably a legit no-call.

13:29: Hummel mows down Craft; instead of calling a foul on Hummel, referees call phantom foul on Thomas, which happened after Hummel's foul. Bad call, second worst of the game for Ohio State.

12:46: Reach-in foul by Craft on Terone Johnson drive. Legit call.

11:45: Sullinger pounds in the post, is hacked on the shot, no call. Bad call.

11:28: Lenzelle Smith hits Ryne Smith's elbow on three pointer, foul called. Legit call. Mike Tirico predicts a make-up call at the other end here.

10:57: Blocking foul on Hummel on a drive. Legit call.

10:37: Reach-in foul on Terone Johnson on Buford drive. Probably legit call. Tirico thinks this is a make-up call.

10:07: Foul on Ryne Smith on Thomas putback. Probably bad call.

9:36: This is a complex play. There's lots of contact on the first few rebound attempts, after Sullinger knocked to the ground with no call. It's probably a bad no-call, but it's irrelevant because Buford is fouled by Ryne Smith immediately after. This is a legit foul, but as it was called on the wrong person (Byrd), it's a bad call, the worst of the game for Purdue.

9:18: Barlow drives, Craft called for a push. Questionable call.

9:07: Hummel called for reach-in on Sullinger drive. Legit call.

8:28: Sullinger creates contact with Anthony Johnson in post, foul called. Probably bad call.

8:11: Possible reach-in by Shannon Scott on Anthony Johnson layup attempt, no call. Probably legit no-call.

7:54: Sullinger is hit on the arm by Barlow on putback attempt, foul called. Legit call.

7:28: Ryne Smith drives, Sullinger strips the ball, no call. Probably legit no-call.

7:20: Jackson drives, Sullinger called for blocking foul on shot. Legit call.

7:00: Before a big dunk by Sullinger, a possible moving screen. Questionable call.

6:49: Jackson slams into Sullinger, blocking foul on Sullinger. Questionable call.

6:00: Will you permit a brief rant? Dan Dakich was irritating tonight. At about this point he says OSU just got lucky on a putback on the previous possession, then he mocks Thomas's defense on the other end, which he also did in the first half. Dakich has a deservedly good reputation, but cheap harmless quips can build up in the long run as indisputable proof of bias in the minds of homers.

5:21: Ravenel pushed out of bounds on a missed jumper, no call. Questionable no-call.

4:42: Carroll fouled by Ravenel on shot attempt. Legit call.

4:08: Barlow drives, possible blocking foul on Thompson. Probably legit no-call. The block is clean.

1:54: Jackson drives for a layup, has contact with no foul. Probably bad no-call.

1:07: Barlow drives for layup attempt, runs into Thomas, no call. Probably a block or charge: questionable call. Byrd clobbers Sullinger's face with his elbow, sending Sullinger to the floor; no call, out of bounds on Ohio State. Bad call, the worst of the game for Ohio State and worst overall.

1:07: Off the ball foul on Thomas. I didn't see this in person or in the replay, so questionable call or probably legit call.

0:48: Wild scramble after a miss. A couple possible over the backs, one against OSU and one against Purdue, no call. I'm okay with refs letting things go a bit in late game scrambles, so probably legit call. Dakich says Jackson is hacked on follow up without a foul; I'm not sure what all happened, but to be safe, probably a bad no-call.

A few more fouls from here on out, none of them controversial. End of game.

That was a pretty great game.

Yes, it was.


No. Shut up and go away, alter ego. Leave your chart fetish at MGoBlog where it belongs.

After going through the various fouls and calls and no-calls, I can see how Purdue fans came to the conclusion that they were being hosed by the referees during the game. There were some definite blown calls that went against Purdue, such as the hook on what should have been Sullinger's first foul and the fourth foul on Byrd. But a comparable amount of blown calls occurred against Ohio State, and as the fouls didn't break up the flow of the game for either side, my conclusion is that the referees didn't favor either team or significantly alter the game with an imbalance of bad calls, and that overall the officiating didn't cost Purdue the game or hand it to OSU.

Interpret this data as you like. If you think I've missed something big, please let me know; if you think I'm a huge homer, you're absolutely right! But I assure you that any bias in this post is unconscious and I have attempted to make this as even-handed as possible. I'm rooting for Purdue from here on out. Play like that the rest of the season and you're looking at a deep NCAA tourney run. Best of luck!


Thanks to all of you for your feedback and constructive criticism. After looking at the game with your comments in mind, here is my response to some of it.

*Most criticism was about the play at 9:36 in the second half that ends up with a foul mistakenly being called against Byrd instead of Ryne Smith, the argument being that Sullinger should have been called for going over the back. (The live sequence starts at 1:36:50 in the ESPN3 video; replays start at 1:37:14 & 1:37:37.) Sullinger goes up for a rebound four times before he is knocked down, and although Lawson has inside position on the first two attempts, none of Sullinger's rebound attempts is a foul. I call this play complex because, although there are bad calls against both OSU and Purdue here of similar levels of incompetence (no call on Sullinger being knocked down and the foul on Byrd), the call against Purdue impacted the game much more but wouldn't have happened if not for the bad no-call hurting OSU. The appropriate reaction to this play, I think, is to go "man, these refs suck" rather than "man, these refs gave OSU the game."

*Sullinger does tend to make faces and grimace and generally act entitled to calls at whistles. This is an understandable aggravation for opposing fans.

*Ravenel indeed did have an uncalled moving screen on Barlow at 4:38. Bad no-call.

*I missed the second foul against Carroll at 15:36 in the first half. Sullinger had slightly better position than Carroll and the refs call a reach-in. I'd call this a questionable call, since there wasn't a whole lot of contact.

*The difference between Sullinger's fourth foul (live at 1:48:40, replay at 1:49:28) and Carroll's third foul (live at 1:16:00) was questioned. Both Sullinger and Carroll's feet and position were moving on the play; to me, the difference was that Jackson planted his shoulder hard into Sullinger's stomach on his drive, while Sullinger made lighter contact with Carroll at shoulder level. However, I relied too heavily on the replay for Sullinger's fourth foul, which made Jackson's drive seem more out of control than it was. Sullinger's fourth foul is upgraded to probably legit call.

*Delany could help with the refs and the OSU bias. But it’s all about $$$$$$$. is an Illuminati trying to poison us with fluoridated water!

So, after that, I'd say that the bad calls hurt Purdue worse than they did for Ohio State but not hugely, and also that the areas that you thought I was being biased you were generally right. Thanks again for your feedback and, uh, all hail our new Big Ten overlords.

Items in the FanPosts is entirely at the discretion of those that post them. They do not represent the views of Hammer & Rails, SBNation, or Purdue University in any way.

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