An apparent no-call double dribble, a last-second whistle and three free throws led to a wild finish as Virginia beat Auburn 63-62 Saturday night in Minneapolis, placing the spotlight on the refs of the NCAA Tournament national semifinal game.
Official James Breeding whistled the Tigers' Samir Doughty for a bump on Kyle Guy’s last-ditch three-point shot with 0.6 seconds remaining. Doughty's torso made contact with Guy's right thigh as Guy went up for the shot, even as Doughty tried to avoid contact.
Guy calmly sank all three free throws, lifting the Cavaliers to the final and stunning Auburn.
"NCAA needs to get some new refs,” Auburn guard Bryce Brown said as the team headed to the locker room.
Irate fans hurled obscene gestures and insults at the officials as they scurried to exit through a tunnel. Police led away a few of the most unruly fans; others walked away from floor seats in tears.
But there was another officiating decision that turned Auburn fans furious. Moments before the fateful play, the Cavalier’s Ty Jerome appeared guilty of a no-call double dribble on his way up the court. But replays also showed Brown as the defender snagging Jerome's jersey to try to foul and disrupt Virginia's offense.
The NCAA said in a statement after the game that the correct call was made on the foul. Breeding had ruled that Doughty moved into an airborne shooter while crowding into his landing spot to violate a rule governing "verticality." But the organization declined to comment on whether a double dribble should have been called.
"They missed some calls and they made some calls, but like I said, that's why they're reffing the Final Four because they're the best of the best," Doughty said. "You've got to trust their decision that they make on that floor."
"They missed some calls and they made some calls, but like I said, that's why they're reffing the Final Four because they're the best of the best."
'A memorable game'
But Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl told reporters after the game that he wanted the semifinal to be remembered as a great game with a lot of plays, not just by the crucial call at the end.
“I thought that we looked like we belonged,” Pearl told SportingNews. “We weren't supposed to be here. We weren't supposed to have a chance to win — or maybe had a chance to win, but unlikely. I thought our kids made a lot of plays, a lot of plays to be able to win the game.
“So, this will be a memorable game, and I'd like it to be remembered for a great game. Let's not remember this game because of just how it ended.”
TEXAS TECH 61, MICHIGAN STATE 51
In the night’s second semifinal game, No. 3 seed Texas Tech toppled second-seeded Michigan State, 61-51. Matt Mooney matched his season-high of 22 points to lead the Red Raiders to victory.
Texas Tech will face off against Virginia in the championship Monday night in Minneapolis.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.