MINNEAPOLIS – A controversial foul in a 3-point attempt by Kyle Guy of Virginia in the final seconds of Saturday's Final Four game against Auburn allowed the Cavaliers to take a dramatic 63-62 victory and left at least one member of the team Tigers fuming. .
Auburn's youth guard, Samir Doughty, contacted Guy in the desperate corner movement and was whistled by the absence of Officer James Breeding. Guy coolly sank all three free throws with 0.6 seconds left, sending Virginia to the championship game on Monday and to Auburn's home for the season.
"The NCAA needs to get new referees," Auburn head guard Bryce Brown said repeatedly as he walked into the tunnel to the locker room after the game.
Brown was more measured in his reaction when he spoke with reporters later.
"I just did not think it was a fault," he said. "The referees thought otherwise, so … they can not go back and rewind it."
Doughty said he did not agree with the call, but that he ultimately "trusted his decision."
"I did not feel any contact, I did not think I had committed a foul, but … the referees thought otherwise," said Doughty. "And as I said, I trust your decision, man, all the time, that's why you're referring to the Final Four, but I'll have the opportunity to see that myself and judge it myself. I'll be my own reference ".
Down by two points with 1.5 seconds left, Virginia put the ball to Guy in the corner, and turned around and missed a triple, but Doughty hit him. Guy made two free throws before Auburn paid a timeout. Then he went to the free throw line and made the last free throw to give Virginia a one-point victory.
"I heard they called him right away," Guy said. "They asked me, I knew it, because I put my face on my shirt, but that was my focus, I knew they had committed a foul, I knew I was behind the line in three shots because I practiced that, I just literally told myself that we dream about these moments, and being able to make one of them happen was special. "
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl did not say if he agreed with the foul.
"My advice, as administrator of the game, is if it's a fault, call it," Pearl said. "Call him at the beginning of the game, call him in the middle of the game, call him at the end of the game, do not call him more or less at any other time during the game, that was the call."
J.D. Collins, the national coordinator of NCAA officials, issued a statement in which he explained that the foul was sanctioned because Doughty "moved towards the aerial shooter, making contact with Guy while removing his landing spot."
Collins cited Rule 4, Section 39.i, which states: "Verticality applies to a legal position and also to offensive and defensive players.The basic components of the principle of verticality are: The defender can not & # 39; or use "the lower part of the body or arms to cause contact outside of its vertical plane or within the vertical plane of the opponent".
Seth Greenberg explains that the lack of attention to Kyle Guy of Virginia was definitely a foul, but the referees missed a crucial double-dunk call on Ty Jerome.
Virginia players harbaded Guy on the court and the Cavaliers fans celebrated wildly, continuing their ascent from the rubble after an unprecedented 16-1 loss to UMBC last season.
The Auburn fans, however, were furious.
Auburn's badistant coach, Steven Pearl, son of head coach Bruce Pearl, ran part of the way across the court after the bell, shouting at the officials before leaving. The officers soon ran out into the tunnel for their exit amid a few obscene gestures and insults that made their way from the nearby section of Auburn students, where the shock had given way to fury.
The police escorted some of the most ungovernable fanatics.
The scene inside the US Bank stadium was quite different from the Auburn campus, where several fans celebrated at Toomers Corner before realizing that the game was not over.
Words can not describe the emotional roller coaster we just witnessed … pic.twitter.com/RWmXNVP1Dl
– Woodford (@OldRowWoodford) April 7, 2019
The foul against Doughty was not the only controversy in the last seconds.
Moments before Brown fouls the Virginia guard Ty Jerome, with 1.5 seconds left, Jerome appeared to commit a double-dribble violation. He dribbled behind his back and the ball hit the back of his right foot. Jerome then picked up the ball and went back to dribbling. The infraction was out of place, and Brown committed a foul on Jerome to force a game within limits with 1.5 seconds left.
"We were in a late situation where we had some faults to give, and I knew there was an interruption there," Pearl said. "You just have to move on to the next play."
Virginia advanced to play the winner of Michigan State vs. Texas Tech in the national championship game on Monday night.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.