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story.lead_photo.caption Mississippi State guard Eli Wright (2) attempts a layup basket past Arkansas forward Trey Thompson (1) during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game in Starkville, Miss., Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. (AP Photo by Rogelio V. Solis)

Never, ever should there be a free-throw shooting discrepancy of 40 to 12.

Not in the SEC, not in college, not in high school, not in junior high, not even in 6-year-old basketball should one team shoot 40 free throws and the other team shoot 12.

Especially not when Mississippi State and Arkansas both have the reputation of playing hard-nosed defense.

Tuesday night the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville was called for 26 personal fouls, sending the Bulldogs to the line to shoot 40 free throws; they made 24. The Razorbacks were 5 of 12. That's a 19-point difference in a game the home team, the HOME team, won by three, 78-75.

If the SEC wants to know why it gets so little respect in basketball, there's your sign.

The SEC ends up on selection Sunday with a bunch of teams that have won eight to 10 games in conference, and the selection committee just starts passing on them.

The Bulldogs are a good basketball team, but they weren't the best team Tuesday night. They were the team that was HOME. The Razorbacks must have felt like Davy Crockett when he looked over the wall of the Alamo.

The officials -- Joe Lindsay, Olandis Poole and Ron Groover -- should be ashamed of themselves. They should be forced to write Mike Anderson an apology.

It was like they thought they were being paid for calls against the visiting team.

And if the shoe was on the other foot, if the Razorbacks were home and shot 40 free throws against a team that shot just 12, the feeling would be the same. Well, unless it was Kentucky.

Anderson did chew on the officials, maybe not soon enough or long enough, but he might have been almost as shocked as his team.

Consider this: Every single Razorback who played was called for at least two fouls except freshman Darious Hall, who was called for one.

MSU had three guys who didn't foul anyone, and three more who had just one foul.

Maybe this is beating a dead horse. Most likely it won't change until a lot of the SEC officials catch up to the game. But it is amazing to watch -- and this isn't limited to Arkansas but much of the SEC play -- how often the referees anticipate a foul, blow their whistle and never realize there was not any contact.

The players are simply more athletic than the officials' eyes will believe.

Admittedly, it was thought at halftime that the officials would do some catching up in the second half. MSU was 9 of 16 on free throws in the first half while Arkansas was 2-4.

Instead, the officials outdid themselves and the Bulldogs were 15 of 24 in the second half while the visitors were 3 of 8.

No way there should be that much of a discrepancy.

Despite the gallant effort of the officials, the Razorbacks had a chance to win but hit a wall and made mistakes in the last minute. The Bulldogs outscored them 6-0 to finish the game.

In the final six seconds, after MSU missed two free throws, the Razorbacks had a chance to tie it but Daryl Macon -- who had a game-high 24 points (and missed only three shots) -- was covered. With three seconds left, Anton Beard launched a 30 footer than went only 29 feet.

By having eight on the court, Mississippi State stole a victory from No. 22 Arkansas, who next week probably won't be ranked. More importantly, it could hurt on selection Sunday.

It wasn't the only factor in the game, but it was the biggest. Never, on any level from the NBA down, should one team shoot 40 free throws and the other 12. That never happens for a visiting team in the SEC.


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Sports on 01/04/2018

Print Headline: Razorbacks deserve an apology from refs

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