One of the key plays in Auburn’s victory over No. 5 Tennessee on Saturday afternoon was a no-call that appeared to go in the Tigers’ favor.
With under three minutes to play, Auburn guard Jared Harper launched a three that bounced off the rim, off the backboard, and back onto the rim. It seemed that the ball was bouncing away from the basket when Auburn’s Anfernee McLemore jumped up and appeared to tip the ball back towards the direction of the basket.
At best, that should’ve been a two-point play for Auburn off the McLemore tip-in. At worst, that could’ve been called basket interference. What it was called, instead, was a three-point play by Harper that gave the Tigers a six-point lead, 75-69.
Here’s real-time video of the play in question:
Pretty fair to say a lot can happen in 2:36 and I’m not sure you can say this decided the game, but it impacted quite a bit.
And that ball was clearly tipped. pic.twitter.com/LnQJOJlcLS
— David Ubben (@davidubben) March 9, 2019
And here’s a screenshot of the play from a different camera angle from the ESPN broadcast:
Why is the SEC so bad at this? pic.twitter.com/VVrWgJv6wD
— Brett Edgerton (@EditorEdge) March 9, 2019
The play was never reviewed or really discussed by the officials, and what could’ve been a five-point game or even still just a three-point game with two and a half minutes to play was a six-point game instead.
Ultimately, the Vols lost to Auburn by a final score of 84-80 and had plenty mistakes of their own to point back to as the reason they lost the game. But the missed call is yet another black eye on officiating in SEC games this year, and Rick Barnes clearly disagreed with the call that was made on the court.
“I thought it got tipped. It should’ve been a two-point play,” Barnes said after the game to the gathered media. “That’s what everybody has told me since I walked in here. But that’s neither here nor there.”
There was no review on the court of the call, but Barnes himself said he didn’t see enough at the time to tell whether or not there was basket interference. If the play could’ve been reviewed and looked at by officials at the monitor, then Tennessee might’ve been able to get the ball back and trailed by only three. At the very least, the Vols could’ve had a five-point deficit rather than a six-point hole to climb out of.
Barnes was asked what the protocol was for situations like that and whether there should be rule where officials can review those types of plays on the monitor.
“(The officials) either get it or they miss it. That’s the protocol,” Barnes replied. “Again, I don’t know how to speak to it.”
Barnes was frustrated with the blown call after the game, but he was quick to point out that if Tennessee had handled their business before that missed call happened, then they wouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place.
“We gave them three baskets in the first half that just didn’t make sense,” Barnes stated. “Turnovers, that obviously hurts. You have to give them credit for that, but from our point of view we also had some unforced turnovers that we just didn’t protect the ball the way we needed to. We didn’t guard the ball well enough whether it was on the perimeter or inside.
“We’ve got no one to blame but ourselves.”
Tennessee committed 13 turnovers on the day, and Auburn stole the ball away 11 different times on the afternoon. The Tigers turned it over just five times the entire game, including just twice in the second half. Auburn scored 19 points off the Vols’ 13 turnovers, while UT managed just five points off Auburn’s five giveaways.
Throw that in with the fact that Lamonte Turner was 1-of-8 from three and Tennessee got out-scored 16-2 in fastbreak points, and that’s a recipe to lose just about every time.
With the loss, the Vols fell out of a tie for first place in the SEC standings with LSU. The only way Tennessee can get at least a share of the regular season title now is if the Tigers lose to Vanderbilt on Saturday night. But seeing as how the Commodores are winless in conference play up to this point, the odds don’t seem great for the Vols.