USC Coach Tim Floyd took time to hone his postgame speech . . . while the game was still going on. Trojans guard Daniel Hackett got off one last shot . . . in the locker room.
Yes, there will be much remembered about Arizona State’s 65-53 victory at the Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday, some of it about the Sun Devils winning.
There was a disputed charging call on Hackett, as the Trojans inched closer in the final minute. There was Floyd’s lord-of-the-dance-like tirade that got him kicked out of the game after the call. There were Pacific 10 Conference referees in the limelight again, two days after a controversial call in Arizona State’s victory over UCLA.
“We don’t have freedom of speech as coaches,” said Floyd, who berated referees and had to be escorted off the court. “We cannot discuss those things. . . . Maybe [President] Obama will change that rule, where we can talk.”
The back-story to all this is the Trojans are on the verge of being boxed with the other leftovers when Selection Sunday ends. USC (15-9 overall, 6-6 in conference play) now has a firm hold on sixth place, a not tournament-friendly position.
Yet, that was another topic. There was a front-burner issue, though Floyd was careful not to fan the flames . . . directly.
The Trojans had cut a 12-point Sun Devils’ lead to six points when Hackett came up court, cut to the basket and banked in a shot as he collided with Jamelle McMillan with 54 seconds left.
“As soon as I saw him coming, I decided I was going to fall down no matter what,” said McMillan, who scored 11 points, six during a 15-2 run that gave the Sun Devils a 52-40 lead with 5 minutes 26 seconds left. “I was looking to get that call.”
Referee Randy McCall didn’t buy it and called a block. His counterpart, David Hall, was sold and signaled a charge. His opinion prevailed.
Floyd flew off the bench in a rage, charging one referee then another, getting two technical fouls for the effort.
“I thought he was going to punch the ref,” said Arizona State’s Jeff Pendergraph, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds. “He went crazy.”
Hackett, meanwhile, looked perplexed, unsure of what happened, though he had a good idea afterward
“I split the two guys, made the layup,” Hackett said. “I turned around and one ref had his hand up ready to call the basket and one. I see David Hall saying it was a charge.”
Derek Glasser made three of the four technical-foul shots and the No. 18 Sun Devils (20-5, 9-4) remained a game behind first-place Washington.
This was the second controversial charging call in as many games in Tempe. UCLA’s Darren Collison was called for a charge late in Thursday’s game.
“I can’t talk about that play,” Floyd said of the call Sunday. “It’s against the rules of the Pac-10, so I can’t discuss them. What we saw was an official make a call, basket and one, and the other guy waved it off.”
Asked whether he made that contention -- that the blocking foul was called -- Floyd said, “Did it look like I relayed that contention?”
But Floyd reiterated, “I can’t comment and it wouldn’t matter.”
Hackett was under no such gag order.
“We call him ‘No-Call Hall,’ that’s the nickname we gave him,” Hackett said of the referee. “He called a charge. It’s not the first time we have some issues there. We got to move on.”
The Trojans have six games left -- four at home -- and sit 1 1/2 games out of fifth place in a season in which the conference may only get four teams into the NCAA tournament.
“We’re 6-6 and have four home games left,” Hackett said. “We’ll see what we can do.”
VS. WASHINGTON STATE
Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Galen Center, Prime Ticket: USC now sits only a game and a half ahead of Washington State in the Pacific 10 Conference standings.
-- Chris Foster