SALT LAKE CITY — Larry Brown has been coaching for almost 40 years in hundreds of arenas in his 13 separate coaching stints in the NBA, ABA and at the collegiate level.
However, until Tuesday night, the 72-year-old coaching legend had never coached at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. And of the 2,500-plus games he’s coached, he may have never had a game end the way this one did with technical fouls on him and an assistant coach that gave Utah four free points with 13 seconds left in a 62-53 Ute win over Brown’s SMU team.
The Utes were leading 54-51 when Jarred DuBois threw up a wild shot as the shot clock wound close to zero. Jordan Loveridge grabbed the rebound and put the ball back in with 20 seconds left.
After SMU made a quick basket at the other end, the Mustangs called timeout with 13.3 seconds left. During the timeout, Brown complained and the officials called a technical foul on him and then another on an assistant coach, giving the Utes four free throws.
Afterwards, Brown was calm, but clearly perturbed about the bizarre finish that saw Utah score eight points in the final 20 seconds.
“We took a bad three late, gave up an offensive rebound and the coach gets a technical,’’ Brown said. “It’s a bad way to end the game.’’
Some people on the press table thought Brown was complaining that the shot clock might have gone off before Loveridge’s putback (which replays showed it didn’t), but Brown said it was a non-call on what he thought was a foul on Loveridge.
“It was a difficult way to lose, to give up an offensive rebound — it might have been an offensive rebound foul,’’ Brown said.
When asked to expound on what happened on the technical fouls, Brown waved his hand and said, “That was just a referee trying to embarrass a team. You shouldn’t end a game like that, but that’s the way it is.’’
Brown preferred to give the Utes credit rather than blame the late calls or non-calls for the outcome of the game
“I don’t want to take anything away from the way they played,’’ he said. “They played great when they needed to and got key contributions from their bench.’’
The Utes and Mustangs had played three weeks ago in Dallas, where the Mustangs won by almost the identical score of 62-55. Brown and Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak had arranged to play each other in a home-and-home series this year because they go back a long ways as friends and because the two rebuilding programs were in need of games.
“They’re getting better,’’ Brown said of Utah. “It was a good experience for us to be here.’’