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ESPN Highlights Controversy over UCLA-Cal Game

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There were two major controversies surrounding yesterday's Bruin win over Cal.

1. With 7.1 seconds left to go, Cal's Ryan Anderson turned the ball over under full-court pressure from UCLA's Russell Westbrook and Josh Shipp. No foul call.

Cal fans claim that a foul should have been called because Westbrook apparently pushed Anderson to the floor, and on top of that he "hacked him in a downward motion" to get at the ball as ESPN's commentator Steve Lavin (oh Lavin) put it during the game. While Russel's hand was indeed on Anderson's back, (see video replay), it is not certain if Anderson was pushed to the floor. And second, Westbrook's downward swing appeared all ball -- you should probably take a look at this this LA Times photo so that you can see it for yourself -- Anderson's even holding Westbrook back in it. I think I would call it an excellent defensive play, not a foul. Lavin threw in his own expertise on Westbrook's play stating that "a downward hack like that across an opponent's arms is always a foul". Yes, a hack is a foul by definition, Steve. But if the player hits the ball and not the player's arms in a downward hand motion then it is not a hack at all but an attempt to steal, wouldn't you agree?

2. With 1.5 seconds remaining, Josh Shipp makes a H-O-R-S-E jumper over the side of the backboard to win the game. See video below:

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Now this shot was controversial...even as a Bruin I can admit that. The rules state that a shot over the backboard is considered out-of-bounds. Many sportsfans contend that the shot was not literally from behind the board but from the side or over-the-corner, or just plain indeterminable from video and therefore a no-call. I myself interpret the rule as: if the shot is anywhere over the board where the board itself obstructs a defensive play then it shouldn't be allowed. But as the AP photo above shows, Shipp was being effectively guarded when he made the shot. Even though this rule is in the book, no one ever calls against it. Whether the shot was legal or not, you can pitch in your own two cents.

Either way, the refs didn't lose the game for Cal, they lost it for themselves when they failed to answer UCLA's late rally. You can't just drop a 16-point advantage in the end of a game and then expect the refs to protect your win over some close calls.

AP Photo by Chris Pizzello

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