Even though the game-changing last-second call against Samir Doughty appears to have been correct, Auburn fans still have reason to complain about the officiating in Saturday’s first national semifinal.
Referees appeared to miss a critical double-dribble by Virginia’s Ty Jerome in the waning seconds of the Cavaliers’ stunning 63-62 victory over the Tigers.
Auburn led by two points with only a few ticks left in the game when Jerome tried to shake free from Bryce Brown by dribbling behind his back. When the ball glanced off his heel without being touched by an Auburn player, Jerome picked it up and then started dribbling again.
Asked about the apparent missed call after the game, Auburn coach Bruce Pearl deftly sidestepped the question.
“I knew there was a disruption there,” Pearl told reporters. “You've just got to get on to the next play.”
Had a double-dribble been called, Auburn would have been awarded the ball with a two-point lead and no more than three seconds left in the game. The Tigers instead went on to foul Jerome intentionally because they had a foul to give, setting up the game’s decisive play.
Virginia ran Kyle Guy off a screen to try to get him a potential game-winning catch-and-shoot 3-pointer from the corner. Doughty jumped at Guy and undercut him, enabling the 81.8 percent free throw shooter to sink three foul shots and send his team to the national championship game.
KYLE GUY WAS FOULED.
He head to the line with a chance to WIN THE GAME. pic.twitter.com/DuF7NEQd32
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 7, 2019
Virginia won despite squandering a 10-point lead in the final five-plus minutes. The Cavaliers surrendered 14 straight points before recovering in the final seconds to stave off near-elimination for the second straight game.
While the tough call on Doughty and the missed double-dribble by Jerome will be the primary points of postgame discussion, Auburn should also lament a mistake of its own that proved costly. The Tigers should not have intentionally fouled Jerome after he lost the ball in the backcourt, not even with a foul to give.
If Brown doesn’t foul Jerome, the best Virginia could have hoped for in that situation would have been a 30-foot heave. Brown’s foul instead allowed Tony Bennett to draw up a catch-and-shoot out of bounds play for one of the best catch-and-shoot players in the country.
Brown was in no mood to discuss that decision immediately after the game though. His focus, as you’d expect, was on the referees.
— Brandon Velaski (@bvelaski) April 7, 2019
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