Ed Hightower said goodbye to a 36-year officiating career after working a game Dec. 22 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
Hightower worked in the Big Ten for the final 32 years of that career, and one game more than any other convinced him he had what it took to be a big-time whistleblower.
Iowa hosted Michigan State on Jan. 5, 1983. It was the first men’s game ever played at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, too. The Hawkeyes trailed Michigan State 61-59 when Iowa guard Steve Carfino passed the ball to Bob Hansen. He made a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left to win the game. Almost.
Hightower ruled that Carfino had stepped on the sideline as he passed the ball to Hansen. The basket was wiped out. The Spartans won.
“Basically, my career started on the rise there,” Hightower, 62, superintendent of schools in Edwardsville, Ill., recalled. “Hansen hit the 3 and I disallowed it. I’d been in the Big Ten, but that gave me credibility as far as not being afraid to make a call against the home team or the visiting team. I’ve got a lot of great, great memories of this league.”
Hightower worked many a game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena over the years. He was a familiar figure at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, the Knapp Center in Des Moines and the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls, too.
“I have been the luckiest guy in the world,” Hightower said. “How many people can say you go through life and do the kinds of things they want to do? Think about that for a moment.”
Hightower leaves the game of basketball with the best kind of memories.
“The game is in good shape,” Hightower said. “I don’t want to hang around. I’m healthy. I feel good. The coaches still respect me, and I want to go out with that respect and not hang around and have them remember what I used to be.”
===== BIG TEN BUZZ =====
— Big Ten teams finished with a 122-31 non-conference record (.797), with eight teams winning at least 10 games heading into conference play.
— Since the 2000-01 season, seven schools have won at least a share of the regular-season conference title. Ohio State leads the way with five. Illinois and Michigan State have four, Wisconsin three, Indiana two and Michigan and Purdue one each.
— Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft needs seven more assists to pass Iowa’s Jeff Horner for eighth on the Big Ten’s career list.
— Former Drake guard Rayvonte Rice, now at Illinois, leads the Big Ten in scoring at 19 points a game. He has been the Big Ten player of the week twice.
===== BIG 12 BUZZ =====
— Baylor’s Brady Heslip had a turnover in Tuesday’s 87-72 loss at Iowa State. He had played the nine previous games without one.
— The Big 12 is 8-9 in games against Top 25 non-conference foes, the best percentage of any conference.
— Kansas has lost four times, all against rated opponents with a combined 48-6 record. A 61-57 home loss to San Diego State on Jan. 5 was the first time since 1987 that the Jayhawks lost the first game of a calendar year..
— Oklahoma has had five or more players score in double figures in seven games this season. It happened just three times a year ago. The Sooners have scored at least 90 points six times this season.
— Three league teams – Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma – are ranked in the Top 10 nationally in scoring…Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim has more double-doubles, 26, than anyone in the Big 12.
===== BEST BET ON TV =====
KANSAS STATE AT KANSAS
Time (TV): 1 p.m. Saturday (ESPN)
Why it matters: Kansas State has won 10 games in a row after a 2-3 start. Kansas has lost three of its last six, including a 61-57 decision to San Diego State at Allen Fieldhouse.
===== WHERE THE REGISTER’S @ =====
Follow Register basketball reporters all season:
@ByRickBrown — No. 20 Iowa at No. 3 Ohio St. Sunday
@RandyPete — No. 9 Iowa State at Oklahoma Saturday
@AndrewMLogue — Drake at UNI Saturday
@Bryce_A_Miller — Drake at UNI Saturday
===== THE MARCH FOR MARCH =====
IOWA (RPI: 23)
The Hawkeyes will try and snap a nine-game losing streak to rated teams when it plays at Ohio State Sunday. Iowa’s last victory in Columbus came in 2004.
IOWA State (RPI: 2)
The Cyclones will be tested in the next few games: at Oklahoma Saturday, No. 18 Kansas at home Monday and then at Texas.
Too bad Creighton bolted for the Big East. We miss Wichita State vs. the Bluejays. The Shockers look to be the MVC’s elite team.
===== SHOT AT THE BUZZER =====
Fans are passionate about Fran McCaffery’s ejection from Sunday’s game at Wisconsin, and the one-game suspension that followed.
Some are passionate in his defense. Others are passionate in saying he needs anger management. There is no middle ground in this debate, judging from opinions on Twitter and e-mail.
Will the suspension change the man? This much I know. McCaffery will continue to coach with the passion that has helped him rebuild four basketball programs. He is smart enough to know that his passion can’t get white-hot again, because he is in the public eye.
And here’s the bottom line: he is viewed differently than Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, who had to be restrained at halftime of Tuesday’s game against Ohio State, and criticized the officiating in a TV interview at halftime. Six trips to the Final Four will do that.
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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball