The Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes were locked in battle on Tuesday night at Crisler Center with both teams looking for a rivalry win to cement their midseason turnarounds, but it was headlined by controversy at the end of the game, which was a 61-58 win for OSU.
With 33 seconds left in the game, Michigan point guard Zavier Simpson went for a layup and was fouled by Kyle Young of the Buckeyes, but as Simpson was falling to the floor, he grabbed onto Young’s jersey to brace his fall and ripped it as he hit the floor. Young would be given a replacement jersey off the OSU bench.
The officials ruled that Simpson would get two free throws, which he made to give the Wolverines a 58-57 lead, but that he would also be given a flagrant foul for ripping the jersey, which sent Young to the free throw line at the other end. He made both of his foul shots to give the Buckeyes a 59-58 lead that they would not surrender down the stretch.
Both coaches addressed the controversial call after the game.
“I didn’t see it. And I tried to ask for an explanation,” Michigan head coach Juwan Howard said after the game. “I tried to look for it. It was being shown on the monitor, or replay right there near our bench. So I started looking at it when I was talking to the referee. And then as I was looking at, he was about to show it for the rewind. And he told the guy to shut it off immediately. So I was like, ‘Wow, you know, let me see what happened’ and he was explaining it to me and I’m like.. I couldn’t believe it.
“(How it was explained) I’m sure one of you want to know or all of you want to know, it was explained like, Zavier went up for layup. And as he was coming down, he grabbed his jersey and ripped it. So I was okay, ‘Well grab his jersey and ripped it.” I’m like, so yeah, look at his jersey it’s ripped. So I’m looking. And then I said, “Well, now, former basketball player myself, I’m looking, I’m like, ‘Well, if he’s going up,’ and this how I’m thinking and I asked him, I said, ‘If he’s going up and he’s falling, he grabbed him to break his fall’. And he said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Well, I guess that means that, you know, he needed some help. He didn’t want to not want to absorb the contact, or the momentum of hitting the floor.’ And that was it. So at the end of the day we have to respect their call that was made. Unfortunately I didn’t see it.”
Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann, on the other hand, said that he agreed with the call after seeing the state of Young’s jersey despite not witnessing the play in real time, either.
“Not after looking at the jersey,” Holtmann said. “Our assistants on the bench noticed noticed it more. I did not notice it in live action. I’ll have to go back and look at it to confirm but I just thought that maybe confirmed it and they were clear in that they would they call foul on our guy on the shot. And then a flagrant-one for pulling him down (by) his jersey.”
The loss dropped Michigan to 13-9 on the season and 4-7 in conference play. They next turn their attention to the Michigan State Spartans, who come to Crisler Center on Saturday afternoon. Both teams will be coming off of a loss after MSU lost to Penn State 75-70 at Breslin Center on Tuesday evening. The Spartans won the first meeting by a score of 87-69 in East Lansing.