Saturday, February 17, 2018


Tom Keegan: Bob Huggins’ frustrations erupt in late-game ejection

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins explodes on an official before being ejected late in the second half, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins explodes on an official before being ejected late in the second half, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.


West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins cooled down almost as quickly as he flipped his lid in a way that earned him back-to-back technical fouls and an ejection with eight seconds remaining in Saturday night’s game in Allen Fieldhouse.

Shortly after Kansas had finished its 77-69 come-from-behind victory against West Virginia, Huggins was seated in a folding chair in front of the visiting radio crew’s court-side table.

From there, he went into the media room to take questions. He didn’t duck that responsibility because it’s part of his job. He gets paid handsomely and he’s been coaching basketball a long, long time, and coaching it well. He understands that he must face the music. What puzzles him is why referees never have to answer for their performances.

Unrelated to the whistles, as is almost always the case, no matter the opponent, Kansas executed better down the stretch, made smarter decisions, delivered in the clutch.

Thanks to the strong finish, KU was able to overcome Mountaineers senior guard Daxter Miles' career shooting night. He made 6 of 9 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 22 points. Afterward, Huggins was asked about Miles passing up a 3-pointer that could have given the visitors a one-point lead with 1:09 left. Instead of shooting, he passed into a crowded lane and turned it over.

“Yes, he did,” Huggins said of Miles passing up a shot. “They’re 21-year-old kids. They’re going to make a mistake, and they don’t get paid. I don’t know why officials want to be part of the game, but then they don’t want to be part of the game when they have to answer (questions about their calls). We are going to bring 19, 20 and 21-year-old kids in here that don't get paid and you're going to ask them questions like, ‘Why didn’t you shoot?’ It's because (the refs) don’t want to get asked, 'Why didn’t you call this and that?' ”

As for why he was upset enough with officials to get tossed, Huggins said, “They shot 29 free throws (before the technicals) and we shot two. You don’t think that had anything to do with it?”

It ended up 35-2.

“I’ve been doing this 40 years and I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game where a team shot two free throws,” Huggins said.

He wanted to make it clear that he didn’t view this loss in any way similar to the bigger lead his team couldn’t hold onto in Allen Fieldhouse last season.

“We blew the game at the end (last season)," Huggins said. "We should have won the game, but they did a great job and came back and shot on us. … We gave it away. They pressed us, and we threw it around. This wasn’t like last year.”

The veteran coach's postgame talk with players reflected his different perceptions of the two games.

“It wasn’t their fault,” Huggins said of what he told his players Saturday. “It wasn’t their fault, and the best way to respond from this is to go win the rest of them.”

Self and Huggins agreed on at least one thing: Neither could remember such a huge foul disparity.

“I’ve never seen that before,” Self said.

He then explained a couple of factors that contributed to it.

“One thing that we try to do against them is drive it downhill, drive it, drive it, drive it, because they pressure out,” Self said. “One thing that they did a lot of tonight is shoot a lot of 3s (making 14 of 26). They didn’t put us in a position to foul as much.”

Self then said he will have to watch tape of the game to better judge how the game was officiated.

“I’m going to reserve comment on anything other than I hated how the game ended,” Self said. “It was a good game. It was competitive. Both teams tried their butts off, atmosphere was incredible, probably one of the best atmospheres all year anybody’s had in college basketball. I’m a fan of Huggs and I don’t like how the game ended. I wish it didn’t end that way. I’m happy we won, but certainly not to end that way.”

For one thing, it will feed the perception of some that the fiery Mountaineers coach is a maniac, which his players, opposing coaches and media members know is not the case.

Huggins is one of Self’s favorite coaches. He likes his grounded personality and quick wit and greatly respects his coaching ability.

A much calmer than on the court but still unhappy Huggins aired frustration during the postgame press conference that referees tend to talk a lot before the season about new points of emphasis, then stress those points early in the season and then revert to old habits. That’s what he meant when he said not all of his frustration stemmed from Saturday’s game.

“It’s been building,” Huggins said. “It’s been building.”

And then it erupted.

As for Kansas, it not only had itself another comeback victory against West Virginia, but by night's end, a share of first place in the Big 12 as well.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. West Virginia

By the Numbers: Kansas 77, West Virginia 69.

By the Numbers: Kansas 77, West Virginia 69.


David Robinett 3 years, 1 month ago

Pot calling the kettle black. West Virginia always gets away with a lot of uncalled fouls. That’s part of the key to their whole success so it’s pretty disingenuous of him to complain about foul call disparity.

Todd Hill 3 years, 1 month ago

If you listened to Bilas, there should have been more fouls called on WV that went uncalled.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 1 month ago

Actually, Thuggy Bear, it was your players' fault that you lost that game. Your guys committed critical turnovers, including that one where Daxter Miles passed up the open three to get it inside, only to turn it over. Your guys also committed more fouls than what you actually got whistled for. The fact that you told them it wasn't their fault is part of what's wrong with our country's education system today. We have raised a generation of young people to believe that nothing is their fault and that they are victims of others who are out to get them.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 1 month ago

WV missed a ton of shots late, that was the game. And they made way more than usual early. I did not see any bogus non-calls against KU. The car salesman can go pound sand.

Michael Sillman 3 years, 1 month ago

Just because there was a disparity in the number of calls doesn’t mean that the referees got it wrong. As I recall back earlier in the season, the Jayhawks weren’t getting to the line much at all due to the percentage of perimeter shots taken. At least now the team is driving the ball and getting it to Azubuike inside. Didn’t he take a full third of our foul shots?

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 1 month ago

That's the risk of playing full-press all the time. No surprise at all. It is expected to see them Mountaineers wrap their arms around KU players' bodies, smacking our players in the head, pushing those players around. Sorry, Bob, as bad as the officiating, it doesn't really matter, it's a sweep!!

Jerry Walker 3 years, 1 month ago

It was sweetness itself - seeing Huggins and the Mountaineers both run out of the Phog.

Mike Greer 3 years, 1 month ago

There is hardly a possession that goes by where WVU shouldn't be called for a foul, but they aren't. Garret should have had an and one after taking a blow to the head on one of his baskets. Right before the second half started, one of the announcers continued to comment on how the refs had not made calls on WVU. Huggins should tape the broadcast and go back and listen to the comments from the "unbiased " announcers.

Fouling is their game strategy, they only get about half of their fouls called, Huggins doesn't have a legitimate complaint from my point of view.

Jim Stauffer 3 years, 1 month ago

Funny thing happened on the way to this disparity. Bilas noted Higgins told one of WVU players who had his arms around our guy on an inbounds pass, to quit doing that. As Bilas pointed out it should have been a foul. It prevented our player from getting open to receive the pass. Yes that is a large disparity, but it was not that obvious while watching the game. I think Self hit the nail on the head as he usually does. They stood around the perimeter and shot threes.

Kit Duncan 3 years, 1 month ago

Bilas said the "ref" yelled at the WVU player to stop holding. Jay was complaining that the ref should have immediately called a foul instead of giving the player a warning. (My opinion: They are coached to do that and know full well they are committing a foul and should be rung up for doing it.)

Kit Duncan 3 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, I didn't realize you were talking about referee Higgins. You are right.

Kurt Eskilson 3 years, 1 month ago

Doesn't Huggins have bonuses in his contract for beating Kansas? It must've hurt to see all that money slipping away ...

Bryce Landon 3 years, 1 month ago

Not to mention the hefty fine he'll get slapped with from the Big 12 office.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 1 month ago

I wouldn't be so sure about the fines. The coaches have figured out where that line is also, and my guess is he at most gets a reprimand.

There may have been tons of insinuation, but all he did was point to numbers, that he's never seen that disparity before, and asked for the ref's to be available for questions and comments afterwards. Doesn't even say they were wrong.

Or is an ejection an automatic fine?

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 1 month ago

Yes, $25k; however, he gives it to charity when he earns it.

Daniel Kennamore 3 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, Huggy isn't exactly hurting for money.

Thomas Green 3 years, 1 month ago

Bob Huggins, don’t teach this type of basketball if you don’t appreciate being called for it! Is it possible this style of play doesn’t work that well anymore, if it ever did with any consistency. Maybe the game has passed you by and you should adapt or move on. The number of foul calls clearly was inconsistent...but then again so is your teams play!

Pius Waldman 3 years, 1 month ago

Huggy got a lot of pub for the difference in foul shots. Without review that would appear to be way wrong. Shouldn't teams get equal teams to shoot free throws. Refs need to call plays so both sides get close to the same calls. I hope that someone will review the game and calls to justify the refs calls. Higgins even told a WV player to stop holding a KU player. And didn't call a foul. KU had 14 fouls but only one that was a shooting foul. I'm sure there were some no calls that should have been called on both sides. Surely some that were called and no reason to be called.

David Howell 3 years, 1 month ago

I understood nothing after Huggy ...............

Joe Ross 3 years, 1 month ago

If you replay the sequence that led to the technical foul, you'll see a lot of contact between Udoka Azubuike and WV's Miles (who drove the ball into the paint area). After the contact you'll see referee John Higgins raise both hands signifying verticality. So long as the defender maintains verticality (meaning he jumps straight up and holds his arms straight up in an attempt to block a shot), that defender will not be called for a blocking foul even if he is inside the restricted area.

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Mike Riches 3 years, 1 month ago

Hugs was right, that 35-2 spread was should have been a 45-4 disparity...

Len Shaffer 3 years, 1 month ago

LOL! But I think one of the reason Huggins complained is to put pressure on the refs to call things more "evenly" in the future.

He does have one good point, though: the refs SHOULD be held accountable for how they do, and it doesn't seem like they are.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 1 month ago

The refs are held accountable for how they do. They are graded on every game, and post-season games are awarded best on their performance evals during the year.

Tracey Graham 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm a Kansas fan/alum, but I agree with Huggins. There's no legit explanation as to why West Virginia attempted just two free throws in the entire game. That's ridiculous. Self mentioned three-pointers. The Mountaineers attempted 61 shots -- only 26 of them came from behind the arc. Tht means they took 35 shots from inside the arc -- or TEN more than KU did (25). Now I know that the Jayhawks sometimes seem invisible on defense, that's how open opponents have been in far too many games this season, but come on. Forget about how many fouls the Mountaineers committed -- that has nothing to do with the fact that WVU only took TWO free throws.

It's not the fewest FTs attempted by a team in a game this season -- there have actually been four contests in which a team had ZERO free throw attempts. In fact Virginia managed to beat Wisconsin despite attempting no free throws and shooting less than 40 percent from the floor back on November 27. But in none of those games was the FT discrepancy close to being as large as it was yesterday. And I'd bet those coaches wondered about the refereeing.

I'm not saying the refs tried to hand Kansas the game or anything like that, but I still agree with Huggins that the refs should have to give an explanation when the calls are that lopsided and when a team that plays as physically and aggressively as the Mountaineers only gets 2 FTAs.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 1 month ago

To skew the numbers a little, remember when there is a foul on the shot, and it does not go in, there is not a shot. It is not 0 for 1 in the record books.

Also in a pressing environment with a favoring crowd, the referees are going to see the hand checks on non-shots quickly and once you hit 7 fouls, the foul shots pile up.

The discrepancy is eye-opening, but based on many games I've seen WVU play, I do think they get their hands in there a little too much.

Doug Stahler 3 years, 1 month ago

Outright grabbing and shoving not just reaching in. I loved when Dok showed up the refs for not calling the initial WVU two hand shove/check foul.

David Howell 3 years, 1 month ago

Dok's acting classes are paying off .......... The fall down foul was classic.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 1 month ago

It's also good to recognize history. WVU has taken by far the fewest number of FTs of any team in the league (Big12 games) and KU almost the most.

Granted, it's not 35-2 for the season different, but even before the ball is tipped it should be expected that KU would shoot more FT's than WVU. It shouldn't even be close.

Robin Smith 3 years, 1 month ago

The explanation is that Kansas is elite (#14 to be exact) at not fouling, while West Virginia is the opposite of that -- WVU ranks #341 at not fouling. Neither team is very good at getting to the free throw line overall, but Graham and Azubuike are actually very good. KU is a net positive between offensive and defensive free throw rates, while WVU is a big negative overall because they don't get a lot of free throws and the foul they heck out of everyone. Basically, the disparity would have been easily projected before the game was played.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 1 month ago

One of the keys to the game column talked about the disparity for wvu on the season. It's how they play in general though usually not that extreme a disparity.

None of that changes the fact that Huggins is an excellent coach that does tons without elite players. I wouldn't be surprised if his T wasn't just as calculated as the few that Coach Self gets. They know exactly where the line is and choose exactly when to cross it and just how far to go.

He knew they were down 6 (IIRC) with under 8 seconds to go. He also would have been pretty confident that the press and plenty of rabid fans would come after Miles who also was responsible for them being in the game in the first place. He stepped in the line of fire to take a bullet for his player. Redirected the attention both in the game and in the presser. It is easy to attack him but really a very credible play on his part.

Len Shaffer 3 years, 1 month ago

That's an excellent point about him taking the heat away from Miles. And it seems especially likely, given how quickly Huggins cooled down afterwards.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm recalling seeing Self get T'd up and laughing into his hand within moments. They know exactly what they're doing, and do it real well. HOF well.

Brad Watson 3 years, 1 month ago

We all know guys like Bob Huggins.....anything to get out of shaking hands with the best coach in Howard Cosell would say ......The incomparable William Self!...These guys love to compete against each other and Huggins knew the game was over and like any great entertainer ......he played the crowd .......just for fun...and it was an off the charts performance....well done!...I really enjoyed it...........WHAT A GAME!

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 1 month ago

Frankly, Huggins and WVU have really nobody to blame but themselves. Just like last year, they played one way for 37 minutes and then tried to sit on a lead.

It is one thing to use the clock to your advantage but another to take all of your team's momentum away by putting the ball almost solely in the hands of one player (Carter) and asking him to create something. In short, WVU lost its nerve, and Miles became hesitant to do what he had been doing all night.

This falls upon the coaches as much as the players. When KU is protecting a lead, they still move the ball and try to get open shots in their normal offense. They also try to get to a point where the other team has to foul.

Fortunately, KU didn't try to foul to get more possessions when they were down by 10 with just a few minutes to go. They were patient, got stops, and then the momentum totally shifted.

Pius Waldman 3 years, 1 month ago

I hope someone reviews fouls called and fouls not called as the national media is highly accusing the refs of bad results. From an outside look that does appear questionable. But watching the game I didn't see calls all against WV. In fact the 1st half it appeared WV got many no calls.

Rob Byrd 3 years, 1 month ago

Tracey - you NAILED the very reason why KU shot so many free throws as opposed to WV, WVU plays SO PHYSICAL AND AGGRESSIVE. Why would you expect THEM to shoot more ft''s when they are the ones fouling due to their pressure defense?

Craig Carson 3 years, 1 month ago

I seem to remember a couple of years ago WVU shot 26 more FT's than KU in a win @ WV..I dont remember Huggins or their fan base complaining about that??!!!! WVU spent most of the game shooting 3's and jump shots...cant expect to draw fouls shooting shots from 10ft away every possession...

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