The Auburn Tigers were defeated by the Virginia Cavaliers by a score of 63-62, in what many are claiming to be a controversial finish.
In the games final moments, Virginia guard Kyle Guy lifted up to shoot a potential game-winning 3-point shot. The shot didn't fall, the Auburn fans in US Bank Stadium promptly started celebrating, but it was short-lived. A foul was called on Auburn guard Samir Doughty, which gifted Virginia 3 free throw attempts with 0.6 seconds left on the clock.
The call could've gone either way, but ultimately the right call was made. Doughty did not leave Guy with room to land, which is, by rule, a foul. Most people would rather see the referees"swallow the whistle" in that situation and leave the game in the player hands, but that was not the case.
The call, albeit hard to swallow for Tiger fans, was correct, but that might not be what Tiger fans take issue with. Before the shooting foul called on Doughty, Virginia guard Ty Jerome, who lead the Cavaliers with 21 points, committed, by definition, a double dribble before being fouled by Auburn guard Bryce Brown with 1.5 seconds remaining in the game.
"As Ty Jerome brings the ball up the court, he accidentally bumps the ball off his back foot … he then re-possesses this ball with both hands. That ends his dribble," said CBS rules analyst and former NFL official Gene Steratore.
If a foul was called, it would have given Auburn possesion, with 1.5 seconds remaining, with a 2-point lead. This would have put the Tigers in an incredible position to win.
"They missed some calls and they made some calls. That's why they're reffing the Final Four, because they're the best of the best. You have to trust any decision they make on the floor," said Doughty postgame.
Doughty's teammate Bryce Brown had other words.
"NCAA needed some new refs," said Brown after the heartbreaking loss.
The final seconds of the game will always be the main story of this game, but prior to that, the game was relatively free of any controversy. The first half went by fast, with minimal fouls. The second half showed Virginia take a 10-point lead at one point, before Auburn went on a 14-0 run to give the Tigers a 4-point lead.
An incredible show of resilience, by the Tigers in the game will always be overshadowed by the ending. That's not to say, that Auburn and their faithful fans should hold any feelings of disappointment.
This Auburn Tigers basketball team won the SEC Tournament and advanced to the program's first Final Four appearance in school history. It was the best season in Auburn's basketball history. With coach Bruce Pearl at the helm, it seems that this won't be the last appearance either.