Controversy plays role in Gators' semifinal win


Referees view the replay after calling a foul on Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin during the second half of the SEC tournament semifinals on Saturday in Atlanta.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 5:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 8:25 p.m.

ATLANTA — It was physical. It was intense. There was a lot on the line for both teams. And it was close.

So, of course, there had to be some controversy.

Florida’s 56-49 win over Tennessee in the SEC tournament’s first semifinal game saw three technical fouls, one flagrant and one near-flagrant called by the SEC crew.

“I don’t want to complain,” said Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes. “There were some calls I didn’t like, but that’s part of it.”

Two of the technicals came when Casey Prather and Armani Moore were called for a double technical for shoving each other late in the first half.

But the big calls were still to come.

With 4:30 to play in the game and the score tied at 45, Tennessee’s Jeronne Maymon was called for a foul underneath. As he walked back up the court, Maymon made a motion to official Pat Adams, explaining what he did. Adams made a different motion with his arm, turned to the scorer’s table and then suddenly back at Maymon and called a technical foul.

Not only did it mean that Florida would have four free throws, but the technical was Maymon’s fifth foul of the game. He left after having scored 10 points and grabbing nine rebounds.

Patric Young, who was fouled on the play, said Maymon used “some four-letter words.”

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin disagreed.

“I watched his body language,” Martin said. “He didn’t use any curse words, swear, whatever you want to call it. He didn’t do any of that.

“Maybe the tone or maybe his approach and his body language caused him to get the technical. But I watched his lips closely, so there wasn’t anything derogatory that was said.”

Michael Frazier II made the technical free throws and Young made both of his to give Florida a four-point lead.

But Tennessee tied it back up setting the stage for more involvement by the referees, who spent a lot of the final four minutes looking at the TV replay monitor.

With 1:21 to play, Prather was going for a layup when he was grabbed around the waist by Tennessee’s Antonio Barton. A foul was called but after looking at the monitor, the officials ruled a flagrant one. That meant two free throws and the ball.

Prather made both free throws, but two seconds later Scottie Wilbekin was called for an offensive foul when it appeared he elbowed Barton.

Barton went down and stayed down for a minute holding his nose even though it wasn’t clear if he was even touched.

“As soon as I caught the ball, they were yelling, ‘Down!’ so I knew they wanted to keep me on the side,” Wilbekin said. “So I was trying to just rip the ball through and get into the middle of the floor and my elbow nicked his chin, I think, a little bit.

“But he did a good job of selling it.”

Said Young after Wilbekin answered, “That was a politically correct way to say it.”

The officials reviewed the play and did not call a flagrant foul on Wilbekin.

But they had one more trip to the scorer’s table when a missed Florida shot went out of bounds. They ruled that it was Florida’s ball with 24 seconds to play, and the Gators managed to hang on.

“Unfortunately for us, some costly technical fouls probably shifted the game,” Martin said.

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