It's not often major college basketball teams commit the kind of mental errors Auburn did in the final 30 seconds against Florida on Wednesday, robbing itself of a chance to upset the No. 2 team in the nation within the same hour that Boston College was beating No. 1 Syracuse.
Florida won 71-66, but the Tigers will forever wonder what might have been if they simply had some more composure.
With the game tied 66-66, Auburn's Chris Denson missed the second of two free throws and Florida big man Patric Young snatched the rebound with 21 seconds showing. For unknown reasons, Auburn's Asauhn Dixon-Tatum immediately fouled Young giving him a chance to give the Gators the lead at the foul line. Young made both of his free throws.
What transpired next almost seemed comical because the ESPN announcer led into it by saying, "Unless something crazy happens here, Auburn is going to have their hands on the ball at the end."
Something crazy happened.
Allen Payne then threw Auburn's ensuing inbound pass out of bounds when he panicked because none of his teammates appeared to want the ball. Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin then went to the foul line and made a pair of free throws to put the Gators up by four.
In the span of three seconds of elapsed game time, Auburn went from tied with a national title contender to down four and feeling like it might as well have been behind by 100.
The bottom line is even if Auburn executed perfectly in those situations, there is no guarantee it would have upset the Gators. In fact, the odds would say Florida probably still would have prevailed for their historic 18th consecutive win. But the Tigers, who are already dealing with a difficult season at 12-12, must move on knowing they gave it away instead of making Florida earn it.
What makes the outcome and how it transpired even more interesting is the fact that Florida will likely now become the top-ranked team in the nation after the win, assuming it also can win at Ole Miss on Saturday.
(H/T to The Big Lead for the video)
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