SDSU loses on a technical knockout

by Edward Lewis

Courtesy of Antonio Zaragoza.

ANAHEIM — Connecticut superstar guard Kemba Walker did it all against San Diego State on Thursday. He made 3-pointers, shot free throws and scored highlight-reel layups.

He also, apparently, flopped.

“We were just walking and I guess I brushed his shoulders a little bit and he flopped a little bit and he fell,” sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin said. “I didn’t think it was going to be a tech, we were just walking. But the ref gave him a tech.”

With SDSU up 53-49 and on a 4-0 run with just less than 10 minutes left in the second half, the Aztecs seemed like they were going to go on a run. But after a UConn timeout, Franklin headed back to his bench and brushed into Walker, who fell to the ground as if he were hit by a sniper.

Initially, there was no call. But when the refs watched the replay, they gave Franklin a technical foul and awarded two free throws to Walker, who buried both.

“I was walking on my way to the huddle and one of their players ran into me; that was it,” Walker said. “The contact was definitely enough to go down.”

The Huskies missed their field goal attempt on the possession after the free throws, but the two points Walker got from the freebies stopped SDSU’s run and hurt the Aztecs, Franklin said.

“They got two easy free throws off something real simple,” Franklin said. “So I guess it just helped them a lot.”

After the two Walker free throws cut SDSU’s lead to 53-51, UConn went on a 9-1 run that gave it a 60-54 lead it would never give back.

But the Aztecs may not have even been in that position if it wasn’t for a technical called on sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard earlier in the game.

In the first half, Leonard said he was talking back and forth with a Connecticut player when the referee called a technical foul on Leonard.

“Both players were talking to one another, and Kawhi Leonard got hit with a technical foul and my comment was, ‘At this level, at this stage, could you not say something to them about it?’” head coach Steve Fisher said of the incident. “It was not one man talking, it was two.”

The technical foul on Leonard came a little more than three minutes into the game. It gave UConn one point (Walker hit one of the two awarded free throws), but more importantly, it gave Leonard his second foul, which forced him to sub out of the game. After that, he was in foul trouble for most of the night.

“I wasn’t able to be on the floor to help my team,” said Leonard, who finished with four fouls. “But I stayed in the game with my head mentally. The fouls just got me in and out of the game and it helped them out a lot.”

Leonard said after the game that the content of the back-and-forth conversation was “personal.”

Although most Aztecs said the two controversial technical fouls didn’t decide the game, senior guard D.J. Gay said it affected them.

“It hurt,” Gay said.

And it will inevitably continue to hurt until SDSU tips off again next season.