MINNEAPOLIS -- It is an unwritten rule of every game you've ever watched or, maybe, played.
Officials establish a tempo, a feel for a game. The players react accordingly. That's the problem with tempo and feel and, well, officiating. A lot of what happened at the end of Virginia-Auburn was part of those unwritten rules.
Replays showed Auburn guard Samir Doughty certainly fouled Virginia' Kyle Guy as he tried tried to win the game with a 3-pointer from the left corner with 0.6 seconds remaining. But given the pace and tempo of the game established by the officials should a foul have been called?
Guy – an 82 percent free-throw shooter – calmly sank the three free throws to win the game 63-62.
Joy, anger, bile and sadness flowed.
"They let us play the whole entire game," Auburn guard Bryce Brown said in an emotional Tigers locker room.
"I'm not going to hold back on what I feel. I'm not going to be playing in the NCAA anymore. I just don't agree with that call."
With his team down by two, Guy spotted up in that left corner for a 3-pointer after the ball was inbounded with 1.5 seconds left. The 6-foot-4 Doughty immediately closed on 6-2 Guy to the point that he bumped the Virginia guard's right leg as he rose up before the shot was released.
The call was made by James Breeding, a well-respected official.
There's no doubt the officials established a let-'em-play pace. There were only 24 fouls called in the entire game – 12 by each team.
With only four fouls to that point in the second half, Auburn fouled three times in the last five seconds trying to slow Virginia down.
Doughty, a junior guard from Philadelphia, mostly took the high road.
"The refs are in the Final Four because they do a great job at reffing," said Doughty, his eyes red obviously from crying. "They're going to try to the best of their ability to make the right call."
But it was more layered than that. Auburn missed a free throw late that might have put the game away. Seconds earlier Virginia's Ty Jerome dribbled a ball off his leg while being guarded by Brown. It was an obvious double-dribble that was missed.
"I definitely feel like we deserve a better result but it's always not going to be like that," Doughty said.
Then to twist the knife a bit more, Breeding seemed to blow a bit of a late whistle on Doughty guarding Guy.
"It seemed like the ref wasn't about to [make] the call," Doughty said. "I can't tell you what was going on in the ref's mind. I'm pretty sure they're going to make the best decision to their ability. I can't really speak what was going on in their mind and what it was so late."
"The way you [deal with it] is understand that if we won the game we'd all be happier," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl told CBS Sports. "But what we have is trust in our God, more or less, and this is what God's plan was. He's blessed us all year long.
"I don't want a couple of calls to be the defining [act] because it takes away from Ty Jerome's incredible game … or Bryce Brown shooting four three balls …,"
"[Officials] are going to get it right most of the time."
But veteran observers almost immediately mentioned the nuances of basketball had to be considered on the final foul call.
Given the pace of the game established by the officials, the call can't be made. But because it was an obvious foul, how do you not call it?
Brown said, "The NCAA needs new refs," on his way to the locker room.
"I regret that, just caught up in the moment," Brown said. "The game was called pretty fair the whole game.
"Our hopes were high at one point. We thought we had it in the bag. I just hate that it had to come down to that last possession. That's not where we lost the game, I feel like. We had a few mental lapses on D throughout the entire game."
It was arguably the most controversial end to a Final Four game since 1989. That year Michigan's Rumeal Robinson went to the line after being fouled by Seton Hall's Gerald Greene in overtime. Robinson sank both free throws. Michigan won 80-79.
Pearl's son Steve, an Auburn assistant coach, was one of those with bloodshot eyes. His dad and the Tigers had come within less than a second of advancing to the national championship game for the first time.
"I thought the game was over and then I saw somebody's hand up with a whistle," Steve Pearl said. "I was like, 'They called a foul and they're sending one of the best free-throw shooters in the country, if not the best, to the line.' Obviously, a really tough way for the game to end."
It was a teeth-gnashing ending for a program playing in its first Final Four. The Tigers trailed by 10 late, went on a 14-0 run and seemed to have the game put away leading 61-57.
But Virginia outscored Auburn 6-1 in the final 17 seconds. The nation's longest winning streak (12 games) ended with a crash.
"It was devastating," Steve Pearl said. "There really are no words."
The NCAA issued a statement on the foul call by J.D. Collins, national coordinator of officiating:
"With 0.6 seconds remaining in tonight's national semifinal game between Virginia and Auburn, Virginia's Kyle Guy was fouled on a three-point attempt by Auburn's Samir Doughty. The call was made by official James Breeding, who ruled that Doughty moved into the airborne shooter, making contact with Guy while taking away his landing spot. The foul was a violation of Rule 4, Section 39.i, which states, "Verticality applies to a legal position and also to both the offensive and defensive players. The basic components of the principle of verticality are: The defender may not 'belly up' or use the lower part of the body or arms to cause contact outside his vertical plane or inside the opponent's vertical plane."
Brown concluded: "I felt like [the officials] let that play decide the game and I don't agree with that. We put ourselves in position to win that game. But I feel like that call shouldn't decide the game. I feel like it was a bad call."
One that will live in Auburn, Virginia and NCAA history.