MINNEAPOLIS — A controversial foul call on a 3-point attempt by Virginia‘s Kyle Guy in the final seconds of Saturday night’s Final Four game against Auburn allowed the Cavaliers to pull out a dramatic 63-62 win and left at least one member of the Tigers fuming.
Auburn junior guard Samir Doughty made contact with Guy on the desperation heave in the corner and was whistled for the foul by official James Breeding. Guy coolly sank all three free throws with 0.6 seconds left, sending Virginia to Monday’s championship game and Auburn home for the season.
“NCAA needs to get some new refs,” Auburn senior guard Bryce Brown said repeatedly as he walked in the tunnel to the locker room after the game.
Brown was more measured in his reaction when he spoke with reporters afterward.
“I just didn’t think it was a foul,” he said. “The refs thought otherwise, so — can’t go back and rewind it.”
Doughty said he disagreed with the call, but that he ultimately “trusted their decision.”
“I didn’t feel no contact. I didn’t think I fouled him, but … the refs thought otherwise,” Doughty said. “And like I said — I trust their decision, man, all the time. That’s why they’re reffing the Final Four. But I’ll get a chance to look at that myself and I’ll judge it myself. I’ll be my own ref.”
Down by two points with 1.5 seconds left, Virginia inbounded the ball to Guy in the corner, and he turned and missed a 3-pointer but was bumped by Doughty, who had jumped toward him and made contact with his torso. Guy made two free throws before Auburn called a timeout. He then stepped to the free throw line and made the last to give Virginia the one-point win.
“I heard them call it right away,” Guy said of the foul. “They were asking me, did I know, because I put my face into my jersey, but that was me focusing. I knew they called a foul. I knew that I got behind the line for three shots because I practiced that. I just literally told myself that we dream of these moments, and to be able to make one happen was special.”
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl didn’t say whether he agreed with the foul call.
“My advice, as an administrator of the game, is if that’s a foul, call it,” Pearl said. “Call it at the beginning of the game, call it in the middle of the game, call it at the end of the game. Don’t call it any more or less at any other time during the game. That was the call.”
J.D. Collins, the NCAA’s national coordinator of officiating, issued a statement explaining that the foul was called because Doughty “moved into the airborne shooter, making contact with Guy while taking away his landing spot.”
Collins cited Rule 4, Section 39.i, which states, “Verticality applies to a legal position and also to both the offensive and defensive players. The basic components of the principle of verticality are: The defender may not ‘belly up’ or use the lower part of the body or arms to cause contact outside his vertical plane or inside the opponent’s vertical plane.”
Seth Greenberg explains that the foul call on Virginia’s Kyle Guy was definitely a foul, but the referees missed a crucial double-dribble call on Ty Jerome.
Virginia players mobbed Guy on the court and Cavaliers fans celebrated wildly, continuing their rise from the rubble following an unprecedented 16-versus-1 upset loss to UMBC last season.
Auburn and some of its fans, however, were irate.
Auburn assistant coach Steven Pearl, son of head coach Bruce Pearl, ran part of the way across the court after the buzzer, shouting at the officials before departing. The officials soon sprinted off to the tunnel for their exit amid a few obscene gestures and insults hurled their way from the nearby Auburn student section, where shock had given way to fury.
Police escorted away a few of the most unruly fans.
The scene inside U.S. Bank Stadium was quite a bit different from the one on the Auburn campus, where a number of fans celebrated at Toomers Corner before realizing the game wasn’t over.
Words can’t describe the emotional roller coaster that we just witnessed… pic.twitter.com/RWmXNVP1Dl
— Woodford (@OldRowWoodford) April 7, 2019
The foul against Doughty wasn’t the only controversial call in the final seconds.
Moments before Brown fouled 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 dribbled again. The infraction went uncalled, and Brown fouled Jerome to force an inbounds play with 1.5 seconds left.
“We were in a situation late where we had some fouls to give, and I knew there was a disruption there,” Pearl said. “You’ve just got to get on to the next play.”
Virginia advanced to play Texas Tech in Monday night’s national championship game.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.