No one will remember how incredibly well this Houston team played the first half against Cincinnati. In a week, no one will remember the complete breakdown in the second half and choking away a 15-point lead. This Cincinnati game will only be remembered for the bite.
When it happened, like most people, I was focused on the wrong thing. I thought the foul & subsequent ejection occurred when Jarreau fell and his face came up against the back of Keith Williams’ leg. And there was considerable debate on social media and on our message board The Veer over whether it was a bite or not. But one of our subscribers, Brian, showed me footage that Jarreau potentially bit another player, #20 Mamoudou Diarra.
In the postgame, both Williams and Diarra claimed to have been bitten.
Here are two different views of the incident and a third with the filter changed so it is easier to see. As much as I’d like to say it didn’t happen, it’s pretty clear that it did.
If you watch the video to the end, you can even see Diarra’s skin come up as Jarreau removes his mouth.
After the game, Kelvin Sampson denied that Jarreau took a bite but I believe he was watching the first part of the play with Williams. I think he will reverse course once he sees the video with Diarra.
Sampson: “I watched it three to make sure I was right too. If you watch it once, you might be wrong. I watched it twice. I watched it three times. I had my staff look at it. There was no bite.”
The AAC will likely take action in the next day or so. I believe a one-game suspension is likely because, right or wrong, the league will want to appear strong. The commissioner will look at recent precedent and (hopefully) deal with this fairly. In the last couple weeks, Illinois’ Alan Griffin stepped on a Purdue player and was ejected and given a two-game suspension while Wisconsin’s Brad Davison intentionally punched an Iowa player in the groin. Davison was allowed to stay in the game but received a one-game suspension from the Big Ten.
Jarreau was clearly frustrated with his own play – he’d committed 3 turnovers in the half (one on the play in question). He’d been jawing with Williams since the pregame, according to the broadcast, and had several minor confrontations during the game. Add to the fact that his team was in a 5-minute shooting drought and Cincinnati had cut a 15-point lead down to two.
Whatever led up to it, I think it is clear that he did something stupid and now, he’ll be dealt with by Sampson, the school, and the conference. I think fans will be supportive when he plays again and the matter will be over until Cincinnati comes to Fertitta Center on March 1.
The most important thing is how this team responds, to both this incident and the way they played in the second half.