Whenever there are two sides to a story — as there were after Saturday’s crucial flagrant foul call that helped determine the outcome of KU’s 83-81 win over TCU — it makes sense to listen to both sides to find out exactly what happened.
Doing that in the aftermath of the elbow that former Jayhawk Ernest Udeh Jr. hit Hunter Dickinson with in the final minute of Saturday’s game was an exercise in creative listening.
Kansas coach Bill Self had no problem sharing his view of the play.
“I had no idea what was going on until I saw it (on the replay),” Self said after the victory, when asked for his thoughts during the official review of the play. “And then, you know, that was an easy call.”
Self admitted that it might not have been such an easy call had Dickinson not hit the deck. But he did — he said after the win that Udeh’s elbow “hurt a lot” — and that, according to Self, helped encourage the officials to stop the game to take a closer look at the play.
“I thought Hunter sold it well,” Self noted. “Because if he hadn’t have sold it, they wouldn’t have stopped the play. And then, you know, it was an obvious call. It was unfortunate because, you know, (it was) unintentional. But the arm definitely swung and was above the shoulder and the mouth.”
The merits of the “obvious call” part of Self’s comments was debated across the country, with seemingly everyone who’s anyone in the college basketball world chiming in.
TCU coach Jamie Dixon was asked about the elbow and flagrant foul call, too, and he did not go into detail about it.
“I’m gonna let everybody else (handle that),” Dixon said. “I know what’s out there and the talk. I mean, we can’t say anything.”
That wasn’t just a case of the head coach playing it safe. Dixon said he heard
“We can’t say anything; we’re not allowed to,” he reiterated. “They said it the other day to us in a meeting, to say nothing.”
So Dixon didn’t.
He hinted at his displeasure with the call and the result, even going as far as to talk about “the travel” — presumably on Dickinson’s game-winning basket that came after the KU big man hit two free throws to tie it following the flagrant foul call.
Dixon also alluded, however vaguely, to other instances in the game when he thought there were moving screens set by Kansas or “push-off fouls or charging fouls” that weren’t called either.
Never, though, did he dive into the specifics of Udeh’s elbow or his frustration with the flagrant foul being called.
“I know there'll be a lot of talk about different things,” Dixon said. “But as I told our guys, I know they're gonna handle this well because we are a high-character group. This is an unbelievable group of kids. They’re smart, they’re tough and they’re high character. We're going to focus on (the fact that) we got out-rebounded. That's what we’ve gotta fix. And that's what we're gonna do. They were the more physical team. Obviously, we're known for our rebounding and they just knocked us all over the place the entire game, and we're gonna get that fixed, and we're gonna respond to it, and we’re not gonna make excuses.”
For Dickinson’s part, in addition to saying Udeh’s elbow hurt — and that Udeh apologized for the contact — KU’s 7-foot-2 center celebrated the fact that he came through when it counted most, capping off a 30-point, 11-rebound afternoon that helped lead the Jayhawks to victory with two crucial free throws and the game-winning bucket.
“Hopefully I don’t always have to get elbowed to try to win us a game,” he said. “But if that’s what it takes to win, I’m all for the team and whatever it takes.”
“I like to see myself as a clutch player,” he added. “You know, that’s what I do. So, you know, I’m clutch.”
— For tickets to all KU athletic events, visit kutickets.com