In the 2019 ACC Tournament, the national spotlight threw the Syracuse Orange into a short-lived outrage over Frank Howard’s apparent tripping of Zion Williamson less than a year ago. That incident held questionable merit, officials overlooked it and Jim Boeheim jumped to Howard’s defense.
During Saturday’s loss to Georgetown another tripping incident engulfed the Orange, this one more discernibly real. Buddy Boeheim hit his second three in the span of a minute with 3:53 remaining in the second half. Terrell Allen leaped to contest it in the left corner, and landed amongst Howard Washington and Jalen Carey on Syracuse’s bench.
As Allen walked back to the court, Carey’s foot moves, but the Fox angle made it hard to determine what happened. The broadcast was one of the more awkward I’ve consumed watching college basketball, so this angle and the illustrations fit.
Allen turned and engaged with Syracuse’s bench as Jim watched the shot go up and in. Boeheim said he didn’t see it, but the referee Michael Stevens did from the baseline. He whistled play dead, and Jim immediately engaged with both hands in the air, likely thinking Stevens made a call on the shot.
Instead, the officials checked the monitor and ejected Carey from the game. It was a curious move that didn’t involve a technical foul and was probably made on an inactive player to avoid further tensions.
“(The official) said he wanted to make sure nothing escalated,’’ Patrick Ewing said, reported by Mike Waters. “I saw Terrell got angry when he went into their bench. I didn’t see what happened.’’
Though Carey was ejected at the will of the officials, Syracuse’s bench received a technical foul in the first half. That could have served as the “warning” that later led to Carey getting tossed. Boeheim believed John Bol Ajak, also inactive as a redshirt, got tagged as part of a bench technical foul.
Officials hit Marek Dolezaj with a blocking foul amidst a flurry of frustrating calls that thrust the Orange into foul trouble. Several SU players stood up, including Carey, but Ajak made the most direct motion toward the court.
Neither Ajak nor Carey were available to reporters after the game, but the ejection particularly underscored an odd season for the latter. Carey began the season as the shoo-in at point guard, lost favor, got benched, then opted for what will likely be season-ending thumb surgery within weeks of the season’s start. He’s appeared on Syracuse’s bench since, as he did Saturday, sporting a hard cast, grabbing rebounds between halves and dribbling with his left hand.
Carey became the first Orange player since Kristof Ongenaet on Feb. 14, 2009 to be ejected — also against Georgetown. Ongenaet received a flagrant foul for an elbow.
“I don’t know what happened there,” Boeheim said.
While Jim didn’t directly back him up, Buddy said both Georgetown and Syracuse jarred on the play due to how Allen defended his shot.
“He kicked me a little (and) tried tripping me, putting his hip into me. I just shot it after he flew by,” Buddy told Waters. “(Our) bench was saying, ‘He tripped him.’ Allen turned around and said something to the bench. I was just trying to get the ref’s attention and see on the replay if he turned around and kicked me again. He initially kicked me.’’
Referees did not comment on the ejection, leaving it up in the air if Carey even tripped Allen at all. They also could’ve made the move due to the yelling back-and-forth between Allen and him. With Carey out, any fallout won’t have direct consequence to rotations and who’s playing, but Syracuse is struggling immensely, leaving everyone frustrated.