Bruce Pearl on Final Four officiating controversies: 'Get over it'

Bruce Pearl is moving on as best he can.

Not even two days removed from a brutal Final Four loss to Virginia, the Auburn head coach made a few media appearances Monday morning.

As expected, Pearl was asked about the two controversies that went in Virginia’s favor in the final minute of Saturday night’s game — the foul called on Samir Doughty as Kyle Guy attempted the go-ahead 3-pointer in the final seconds, and the missed double-dribble by Ty Jerome.

Pearl was reticent to criticize the officiating after the 63-62 loss. Given the opportunity to call out the officials on both ESPN and the “Dan Patrick Show” Monday morning, he similarly took the high road.

“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,” Pearl said on ESPN’s “Get Up.”

“Kids make mistakes, coaches make mistakes. Yes, officials will make mistakes. That’s part of the game. Get over it. Sometimes they're going to go your way, sometimes they're not going to go your way.”

Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl, right, reacts to a call during the first half against Virginia in the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Saturday, April 6, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl has opted not to criticize the officials after his team's controversial Final Four loss. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Pearl missed Ty Jerome’s double-dribble, too

That comment was specifically in response to the missed double-dribble that almost certainly would have changed the outcome of the game. Auburn led by two points when Jerome dribbled the ball off his heel while attempting an around the back dribble. Jerome then picked up the loose ball and continued up the court for a few more steps before a foul was called on the Tigers, who had a foul to give.

Jerome should not have been allowed to advance the ball, but the officials missed it — as did the majority of folks watching in the arena and around the country.

Even Pearl missed it. He thought that Bryce Brown, who was closely guarding Jerome as he made his way up the court, got a hand on the ball, briefly knocking it away.

“I didn’t see it either,” Pearl said on the “Dan Patrick Show.” “When I saw the disruption in the play, I assumed that Bryce must have deflected it. But obviously Ty Jerome just lost it, picked it up, dribbled it again and at that point I was just glad they hadn’t got a shot off and we executed the foul and we were 1.5 seconds closer to advancing.”

If it had been Brown who deflected the ball, Jerome would have been able to regather possession and dribble upcourt without issue. But because it was an unforced loss of possession, Jerome should have been whistled for a double-dribble and a turnover.

Instead, the play carried on and Brown fouled Jerome with 1.5 seconds remaining, setting up what proved to be the winning play.

Pearl on refs: ‘They’re the best in the business’

After the foul on Auburn, Jerome inbounded to Guy in the corner. Guy got a shot up quickly, but was fouled by Doughty with 0.6 seconds to play. Guy then calmly sank all three free throws to give his team the lead and, soon after, a dramatic victory.

As it relates to the foul call on Doughty, Pearl reiterated what he said Saturday night. If that’s a call the officials are going to make early in the game, it’s a call they should make in the game’s final minute, too.

“As long as they’re going to call that foul early, call it late, but don’t call it just because it’s late. That’s why those three (officials) are on that game. They’re the best we have in the business. You just got to move on,” Pearl said.

Instead of lamenting the officiating down the stretch, Pearl said he has already done his fair share of reflecting on other aspects of the game. He was particularly critical of his own offensive gameplan.

“There were some things that I could have done better that are haunting me a little bit the last couple nights,” he told Patrick.

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