Sean Miller ended his public campaign against ACC official Karl Hess nearly a month ago, but the Arizona coach instead won what he could consider a karmic victory.
Immediately after the UA's 84-72 loss to Vanderbilt on Nov.25, in which the Wildcats collected 25 fouls and Hess whistled Miller for a technical, the UA coach expressed a concern that Hess was scheduled to work tonight's UA versus N.C. State game.
But this week, Miller learned that the Wolfpack suspended their leading scorer, forward Tracy Smith, because of comments Smith made after a loss at Wake Forest on Sunday … against a crew that included Hess.
"I know their inside player was suspended, thank goodness. Thank goodness," Miller said Monday after the UA squeaked past Lipscomb 83-82. "I asked for a lot of things for Christmas. I wasn't sure I was going to get that one, but it looks like Santa delivered that one before the day came.
"As I was watching No. 34 here tonight (Lipscomb center Adnan Hodzic), I just couldn't quite thank (N.C. State) enough for suspending him. N.C. State's an ACC team and very well-coached. They have a terrific tradition, and now they're coming into McKale to win the game. They play against the best competition in the world, and they have some other good players."
Smith, who averages 17.6 points and 9.5 rebounds, said the officiating crew of Hess, Joe Lindsay and Sean Hull "favored" Wake Forest. The Wolfpack was whistled for 25 fouls. Smith fouled out.
"It's a man's game, I mean there's going to be touching and hitting," Smith said after the game. "You can't call every little touch foul."
Smith apologized Monday, and Miller has not discussed Hess since saying immediately after the Vanderbilt game that he thought Hess "has an individual problem with me." Hess called Miller for a technical foul in the second half, even though Miller said he only told Hess to watch the three-second rule.
Coordinator backs call
After five years as an NFL replay official, Pac-10 officials coordinator Bill McCabe learned not to trust television replays from the front or back of a subject.
So when a television replay from behind Nic Wise appeared to show the ball in the UA guard's hands with 0.0 seconds against Lipscomb, and a side angle showed the ball out of his hands with 0.1 left, McCabe said he knew his Pac-10 crew made the right call by allowing the game-winning three-pointer.
"You never use the front or back angle because of the flatness of the TV," McCabe said Tuesday. "The shot from behind was unclear. … But I could see it frame-by-frame, and when the red light went on (the backboard light indicating no time remains), it was out of his hand by several inches."
McCabe said he told Tucson-based crew chief Chris Rastatter that he made the correct call.
"Chris said to me, 'It was so close,'" McCabe said. "I said, 'If that's the case, then you have to go with the original call.'"
Rastatter's crew was forced to view the replays through what McCabe called a "six-inch fuzzy monitor" on the courtside while McKale Center stood still for several minutes. But McCabe said the monitors are typically provided by the television stations covering the game, and there is no standard.
While McCabe said it might be possible that different clocks are microseconds apart, Suzy Mason, the UA's associate AD for event management, said the UA's clocks are fully synchronized.
"Apparently, we just wanted some Christmas drama," Mason said. "That's what I told Nic."
Fans and officials weren't the only ones glued to the television monitors Monday. When guard Kyle Fogg left McKale Center, he, too, could only marvel.
It was Fogg who initially went up for a 35-footer, then dished in midair when he heard Wise calling his name.
"I definitely was thinking about that all night," Fogg said Tuesday. "When I watched it, it looked pretty crazy. Nic hit a great shot."
The assist capped a productive offensive night for Fogg, who hit 4 of 5 three-point attempts en route to a career-high 18 points. He scored 10 of his points in the first half, when the UA otherwise slumbered to a 34-30 halftime deficit.
"I'm definitely trying to bring more energy to our team," Fogg said. "I felt like I played pretty well overall, though there's a couple of things I need to fix up on the defensive end."
Fogg leads the Pac-10 in three-point shooting percentage (64.0) but has only 25 attempts, so he does not qualify for national statistics.
Just a sprain
UA spokesman Richard Paige said Tuesday that forward Jamelle Horne is day-to-day with a sprained foot, after Miller said Monday that Horne was talking about being out until February with the injury he suffered at San Diego State.
Horne is doubtful for tonight's game, however.
On StarNet: Follow Arizona Wildcat basketball on reporter Bruce Pascoe's blog at go.azstarnet.com/pascoe