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A quick shout out to the refs in the Xavier v. Creighton game

You know, typical post-game coverage.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Creighton
He’s hiding back there, not making a big deal of himself.
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

When Xavier was up four with just under a minute to go, Trevon Bluiett ripped down a defensive board and was immediately fouled. I tweeted out that he was going to the line. He wasn’t.

That was Creighton’s second foul of the half. In fact, before the Bluejays started fouling on purpose, there had been 25 fouls called in 39 minutes of play.

Today’s officials were Michael Stephens, Lamar Simpson, and Evon Burroughs, and they did a wonderful job. Think back to the 59 fouls called in Xavier’s game against Buffalo, or the fact that Xavier was six games into the season before they had played in a game with fewer than 40 fouls called. That was miserable stuff to watch.

The beauty of today’s game was that I wasn’t the only one who thought Tre would be going to the line after that foul. With a minute left in the game, everyone assumed that would be the case. It was only when he didn’t that most of us thought about the refs for the first time in the game.

It wasn’t like the game was an all-out brawl, either. It was just like watching basketball, not tuning into the Ref Show. The only time I had strong feelings about a call was when Tre got nuked at the top of the key by Justin Patton, leading to a turnover, a layup, and ultimately a tech when Tre wouldn’t stop yapping at the official (who I thought had blown the call). If there had already been a foul called every 40 seconds, I would have thought the ref was grandstanding. Because there hadn’t (and probably also because Xavier won), I’m inclined to give the ref the benefit of the doubt.

All that to just say thanks to Michael Stephens, Lamar Simpson, and Evon Burroughs for officiating the game without taking it over. The game ebbed and flowed with a life of its own, and the officiating crew showed great feel in letting it play out on its own.