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  • Writer's pictureKevin Scarbinsky

Did Auburn get screwed? You bet your asterisk

No way no how nowhere should a game of Final Four magnitude be decided that way.

Foul on Auburn? Maybe, but the official on the scene didn't hesitate to call it with .6 seconds left.

Double dribble on Virginia a second or so earlier? Absolutely, but the two officials looking right at it flat ignored it.

Their ignorance was the inexcusable, unconscionable difference in an incredible, unforgettable game.

Make that call, and it's Auburn ball with a two-point lead with two seconds to play. Make that call, and Virginia would've needed a bigger miracle than the one that helped put the Cavaliers in the Final Four in the first place.

Instead the missed call led to the made call that led to three Virginia free throws and a one-point victory.

Final score: Virginia* 63, Auburn 62.

Auburn didn't deserve to lose, but Auburn is going home to hurt for a long, long time.

Virginia didn't deserve to win, not that way, but Virginia is going to play for the national championship Monday night.

Congratulations, NCAA. Your signature event is forever tainted.

Your officials allowed Virginia to overcome a 14-0 Auburn run in the final five minutes that turned a 10-point UVa lead with 5:03 left into a four-point Auburn lead with 17 seconds to play. That 14-0 run put the Tigers halfway through the door to their 13th consecutive victory, which would've been the latest greatest victory in school and state history.

And then Virginia's Kyle Guy became the man, with a little help from his friends in stripes. He hit a trey from the right corner with 7 seconds left, and after Jared Harper made 1 of 2 free throws, Guy got fouled in the left corner with .6 seconds remaining. Give him all the credit for draining the three free throws New Mexico State didn't that would've ended Auburn's run before it began.

But this wasn't karma or hard luck on the hardwood.

This was grand theft no call, and it was as cruel as sports gets.

In between Guy's legit heroics came the most decisive, derisive moment in memory, or at least since the Saints got no-call neutered in the NFC Championship Game. Rushing upcourt, Virginia's Ty Jerome dribbled the ball off the back of his leg, grabbed it with two hands and dribbled it again. That's a double dribble everywhere. Except in the Final Four, with two officials staring right at the play, where it wasn't.

Auburn should've had the ball to inbound with a two-point lead with two seconds to go to start celebrating its first Final Four victory and begin preparing for its first national championship game.

Instead the officials swallowed their whistles. Until they didn't. And the team that put together the best basketball season in school and state history had its heart, its Charles Barkley-sized heart, ripped from its chest.

Did Auburn deserve to win? Did the five Auburn players on the floor down the stretch dominate the final five minutes? Did Auburn get screwed in the worst possible way at the worst possible time?

You bet your asterisk.

A special Auburn team was thisclose to playing for a bigger trophy. (Todd Van Emst/AuburnAthletics)



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