Fouls play major role UMass men’s basketball’s win over LSU
Massachusetts men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg used the term “ticky-tack” to describe the foul calls.
Louisiana State coach Johnny Jones said the referees made it clear early on how the game was going to be called.
Either way you look at it, the 54 combined fouls played a major role in UMass’ 92-90 victory over the Tigers Tuesday at Mullins Center.
In the offseason, the NCAA made it a point for officials to crack down on hand-checking fouls, hoping to open up the game and lead to more offense. That proved to be the case in this game, with the two sides scoring a collective 182 points and attempting 65 free throws.
“It was actually a good basketball game,92-90, I think that’s what the fans like to see,” Kellogg said.
While the scoring was up, much of that had to do with the numerous trips to the free-throw line for both teams because of those “ticky-tack” fouls.
The officiating wore on the 5,182 in attendance who grew frustrated during the first half as the refs refused to let either side get away with any sort of contact.
LSU (0-1) committed their 10th foul only nine minutes, 58 seconds into the game, putting the Minutemen (2-0) in the double bonus for the rest of the half.
The real impact the foul calls had on the game was on each team’s rotation and how both Jones and Kellogg used certain players down the stretch.
“Because of foul trouble, Sampson (Carter) moved over on (Johnny) O’Bryant (III) some,” Kellogg said. “And what I have to do and I talked about this in the locker room with the guys, is we have to figure out a way to start getting Demetrius (Dyson), Seth (Berger) and Clyde (Santee) some playing time.”
The planned rotation that Kellogg envisioned prior to the game went to wash almost right from the opening tip as Cady Lalanne was sent to the bench four minutes into the contest with two early fouls. That meant Tyler Bergantino was going to play a much larger role than planned.
He chipped in with two points and two rebounds. And although he picked up four fouls in the first half, leaving him on the bench for the rest of the contest, he didn’t let the quick whistles deter him from playing his game.
“I thought (Bergantino) was fantastic again (Tuesday),” Kellogg said. “He was banging and hitting people and rebounding. He did a great job. (I) actually wish I could’ve played him a little bit more in the second half.”
When the second half began, Lalanne entered back into the game, scoring 16 points before fouling out with just over two minutes left in the game.
On the other side of the ball, Jones had some lineup juggling to do of his own to compensate for foul trouble.
After freshman forward Jarell Martin exited the game within the first minute with an ankle injury, O’Bryant III found himself in foul trouble during the first half. Jones made the gutsy decision to keep him in the game with two fouls, but was forced to pull him late in the half when UMass drew the third foul on him.
“With him not being on the floor, it helped us a lot,” Chaz Williams said. “He takes up a lot of space, he creates a lot of offense for their team and we took a lot of pressure off our big guys because he was out and they didn’t have to worry about banging so much.”
One player that flourished in this closely called game was Carter. He took a game-high 15 free throws, making 11, including the final four at the end of the game to seal the win.
Carter prides himself on getting to the basket and drawing contact, but up until this season wasn’t getting the calls. Now, with the new rule in place, he sees it as an opportunity to play his game.
“Honestly, I’m glad they changed the rules,” he said. “Throughout my career here, I’ve always been looking to get the body contact and (the refs) will just look at me and it looked like I threw up some stuff and now, just to know I’m getting the calls, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Patrick Strohecker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @P_Strohecker.