College Sports

Bruce Pearl sends right message after Auburn’s gut-wrenching loss

Virginia’s Kyle Guy (5) takes a shot as Auburn’s Samir Doughty (10) was called foul during the second half in the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Saturday, April 6, 2019, in Minneapolis.
Virginia’s Kyle Guy (5) takes a shot as Auburn’s Samir Doughty (10) was called foul during the second half in the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Saturday, April 6, 2019, in Minneapolis. Associated Press

Kudos to Bruce Pearl.

The Auburn men’s basketball coach took a gut-punch on Saturday when a missed double-dribble call, followed by a called foul on the Tigers’ Samir Doughty helped send Virginia to Monday night’s national title game with a 63-62 win over the Tigers.

After Doughty was called for fouling Virginia’s Kyle Guy on a three-point attempt with 0.6 seconds left, Guy hit three straight free throws to give Virginia the win and Auburn a heartbreaking loss.

When interviewed after the game by CBS’ Tracy Wolfson, Pearl took the high road, congratulating Virginia while refraining from commenting on the officiating. Pearl continued that Monday when he appeared on ESPN’s “Get Up!” program.

“The biggest point I want to make, and I’m sincere in this, I’m not just saying this because it’s politically the right thing to say. There is human error involved in the game. Kids make mistakes, coaches make mistakes. Yes, officials will make mistakes. That’s part of the game. Get over it,” he said.

Rick Bozich at WDRB in Louisville wrote about James Breeding of Louisville, who was the official who made the foul call on Doughty.

Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News and Observer wrote about former official John Clougherty, who made the key call at the end of Michigan’s victory over Seton Hall to win the 1989 national title.

“Until Saturday night, Clougherty was the last referee to make a controversial call that decided a Final Four game, whistling Seton Hall’s Gerald Greene for a reach-in with four seconds left in overtime, sending Michigan’s Rumeal Robinson to the line to win the national title in 1989,” DeCock wrote.

“But when Breeding whistled Auburn’s Samir Doughty for fouling Kyle Guy with .6 seconds to go, sending Guy to the line for three free throws, Clougherty had company.”

I was on Tom Leach’s radio show Monday morning where we talked about the officiating. I said I was in favor of more transparency with regard to officials, but I am not for officials holding press conferences after games. When officials are doing their best work, no one even knows they’re there.

I also said I am tempted to tell those who constantly criticize officials, they should go to their local high school athletic association and voice an interest in officiating. I think once they tried it, they would see it’s not as easy as it looks on television.

So I’m with Bruce Pearl: “Get over it.”

Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl and Kentucky Coach John Calipari, rivals for a lot of years, talked about their relationship after UK's 92-72 win on Saturday.





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