MINNEAPOLIS – Kyle Guy made three free throws with 0.6 seconds remaining and Virginia stunned Auburn, 63-62, to advance to the national championship game Saturday night at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Apr 6, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Virginia Cavaliers guard Kyle Guy celebrates after defeating the Auburn Tigers in the semifinals of the 2019 men’s Final Four at US Bank Stadium. Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
Time appeared to run off the clock as Guy launched a 3-pointer from the corner, but a foul was called with 0.6 seconds left on Samir Doughty, whose body made contact with Guy’s legs.
Bryce Brown missed a desperation, catch-and-shoot 3 as time expired.
Auburn’s furious rally in the final five minutes helped stage the dramatic finish, set up when Brown made three 3-pointers, including the go-ahead triple with 1:56 on the clock to give the Tigers a 59-57 lead.
Auburn’s Anfernee McLemore made a pair of free throws to put the Tigers up four with 17 seconds left.
Guy — who finished with 15 points — answered with a 3-pointer, coming off of a baseline screen, and the Cavaliers sent junior Jared Harper to the free throw line. Harper made the first of two, but missed the second and Auburn clung to a 62-60 lead with 5.4 seconds left.
Cavaliers guard Ty Jerome, who had a game-high 21 points, was fouled near halfcourt with 1.5 seconds left, when Virginia coach Tony Bennett called timeout to set up Guy’s last-second 3 in the corner.
Doughty led Auburn with 13 points and Brown had 12.
Virginia held a comfortable advantage at 57-47 with 5:22 to play but fell apart down the stretch, largely without Jerome. Brown sparked a 14-0 run with three 3-pointers from the corner — almost all in the same spot.
As Jerome went to the bench with his fourth foul, Brown threatened to steal the show. After missing in the same spot, Brown got the ball back for a 3 from the corner on a feed from Harper, and Danjel Purifoy hit a 10-footer to bring the Tigers within 57-56.
Brown trimmed the lead to 57-51, sticking his second 3-pointer of the game with four minutes left in the game after Jerome picked up his fourth foul — one minute after being whistled for No. 3 — defending 70 feet from the basket.
De’Andre Hunter swished a short jumper that stretched Virginia’s lead to seven and Jerome’s uncontested longball from the right wing rolled in for a 57-47 advantage, which brought a timeout and the first sign of panic on the face of the Tigers.
Up 50-47, Jerome rescued Virginia with a 15-footer that rolled in after smacking the back iron to push the lead back to five.
Scoreless for nearly six minutes out of the halftime locker room, one finally fell for Auburn after nine straight misses. Doughty picked up a loose ball and knocked down a 3 in front of Virginia’s bench with 14:12 on the clock in the second half. Doughty followed with a layup off a turnover on the next possession.
Auburn led 31-28 at halftime — its largest lead in the first 20 minutes — despite shooting 3 of 14 from 3-point range.
—By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media