Arizona takes OSU’s best shot literally and knocks Beavers from tournamentby Javier Morales on Mar. 10, 2011, under Sports
LOS ANGELES — Oregon State center Joe Burton complained to referees that Arizona’s defenders were all over him all game, hence his sucker punch of Arizona’s Kevin Parrom in the second half.
Parrom fell, sprawling on the ground. Replays at Staples Center showed Burton’s swipe at Parrom’s face, prompting boos mostly from the Wildcat contigent. Arizona in turn knocked out Oregon State from the Pac-10 Tournament with a 78-69 victory in front of an announced crowd of 10,782 (Staples seats 19,079).
The 16th-ranked Wildcats (26-6) advance to the semifinals, where they will play upstart USC (19-13) at 7 p.m., Tucson time, Friday. The Trojans defeated California 70-56 in the first quarterfinal game Thursday.
Parrom did not retaliate, which is significant, because he could have been ejected along with Burton when the incident occurred with 10:25 remaining and Arizona leading 60-51. Parrom, who finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, started in place of Kyle Fogg, who strained his left quadriceps earlier this week in practice.
Fogg said he did not start because he was unable to practice since Monday. If Parrom retaliated, he probably would have been forced to sit out the USC game per NCAA fighting rules. That would have put Arizona coach Sean Miller more in a bind against a Trojans team that has won six of their last seven games.
“I thought Kevin handled that with a lot of poise,” Miller said. “That’s not always an easy situation to handle.”
Burton was unavailable for comment. Parrom commented briefly on the matter, saying, “I was just being physical. From what I remember, he just hit me. So I just fell and got back up, and you know, nothing.”
Arizona guard LaMont “MoMo” Jones was assessed a technical foul for approaching Burton, but that was offset by Burton’s technical so the Beavers did not attempt a free throw. Parrom made 1 of 2 free throws on the flagrant-foul call. The Wildcats proceeded to score seven more unanswered points to open a 68-51 lead with 2:18 remaining.
When asked if he saw Burton’s swipe at Parrom, Jones said, “Not necessarily. That’s my teammate so I’m going to stand up for him.”
Burton’s biological father, Joe Burton Sr., a former football player at Utah, hardly flinched when he saw the replays at Staples Center of what his son did to Parrom. He smiled and slightly shook his head. The Burtons are part of the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians.
The younger Burton is the first from his tribe to get a full athletic scholarship to a major university in the 127-year history of the reservation
When Burton was ejected he was a force inside for Oregon State, scoring nine points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field with four assists and five rebounds.
“When you’re the underdog against a No. 1-seeded team and you see the game slipping away, people get frustrated,” said Arizona forward Solomon Hill, who achieved a career-high 11 rebounds to go with his nine points. “I’ve been there myself. You let it get the best of you.
“I don’t think he meant to take it that far. It just got the best of him. Before he could control it, it got too late. It hurt them when he left. He was a big part of their offense. He created things. It got to be more individual than team for him, so yeah, it was a big turning point for us.”
Oregon State coach Craig Robinson took the high road during the postgame press conference.
“I couldn’t see the screen; I just heard the crowd,” he said. “I didn’t see anything. I haven’t seen it, so i can’t even comment on it.
“But it was a physical game, and I am sure there was something leading up to that. But I don’t want to take anything away from the University of Arizona. I don’t want to take anything away from Joe’s play. He was playing a good game up until then, and we certainly missed him in there.”