Alternate Endings For Auburn As Virginia Fulfills Its Destiny

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Virginia won the 2019 title.
Kyle Guy turned out to the be the free throw hero for Virginia. ~ Photo courtesy Matt Riley/Virginia Athletics Media Relations

A year ago, the Virginia basketball program celebrated its first National Championship with wins against Auburn and Texas Tech at the Final Four. That completed the “all-time turnaround title” as CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz coined it live because UVA rallied from the historic defeat against No. 16 seed UMBC in 2018 to win it all in 2019.

A year later in 2020, the NCAA Tournament was cancelled due to coronavirus concerns world wide. That led to a slew of fantasy or imagined tournaments in the media. Virginia would have repeated with the lowest number of total points scored or allowed over six games in NCAA Tournament history – duh. That approach combined with some hard feelings for Auburn fans over a missed double dribble call gave me an idea, though.

What if we dreamed up a different ending for the Final Four game? After all, Cavalier fans know in their heart of hearts that the Hoos would have found a way to win even if that sequence had been called differently with a foul on Bryce Brown for grabbing Ty Jerome’s jersey before he dribbled again or with a whistle for a double dribble. It was meant to be. Team of destiny and all of that.

With that in mind, for the one-year anniversary release, here are five alternate endings from the Virginia-Auburn game in the Final Four. You wouldn’t have believed it if you saw it.

Foul called, but clutch still happens

Reviewing the video, Brown grabbed Jerome’s jersey with approximately 4.1 seconds to to. The Tigers still had a foul to give so Virginia would get the ball on the sideline with that much time remaining. It’s the same scenario we actually saw in Minneapolis, but with more time on the clock.

Option one for this ending is pretty obvious. UVA runs the same play, Kyle Guy takes the same shot, and Auburn still fouls. Kyle Guy makes all three free throws with a little more than 2 seconds remaining. Auburn’s final play with the extra time produces a missed shot just over halfcourt.

Option two, however, is a sideline version of the Pittsburgh triple pop play. Guy wraps around a staggered set of screens followed by De’Andre Hunter and then Ty Jerome. Jerome catches the ball above the top of the key, gets set, and lets a deep 3-pointer fly. It swishes through with .6 seconds to go and Auburn’s desperation pass doesn’t connect. Hoos win!

Foul called, “The Pass Part II” follows

Reviewing the video, Brown grabbed Jerome’s jersey with approximately 4.1 seconds to to. The Tigers still had a foul to give so Virginia would get the ball on the sideline with that much time remaining.

UVA lines up a sideline set, but as Jerome attempts to cut off a screen, he’s held and the official makes the call before the ball is inbounded. With no fouls left to give at this point, Virginia is now in the bonus. Auburn coach Bruce Pearl goes apoplectic on the sidelines. He can’t believe the call in that scenario. He’s marching the sideline waving wildly with a red face. Tiger fans join in.

Auburn still has the lead at 62-60, however, and this is a one-and-one free throw situation for Jerome. There’s a ton of pressure with a stadium of 72,000 and an audience of millions watching. The whole thing has an eery similarity to the Elite Eight game less than a week ago. Unlike the Purdue game that had 5.9 seconds left on the clock, there’s only 4.1 to go here. Plus, Auburn is up just two not three like the Boilermakers. Jerome makes the first and toes the line for the second. The attempt comes up short, but Mamadi Diakite somehow manages to get a hand on it for a back-tapped rebound again.

This time, the ball doesn’t roll all the way to the other 3-point line, it manages to find Clark as he’s moving forward on the left side of halfcourt. Clark spots Diakite along the baseline and fires the pass. All in one motion, Diakite gathers and shoots. For the win!

Virginia won the 2019 title.
De’Andre Hunter delivered in the clutch earlier in his career too. ~ Photo courtesy Matt Riley/Virginia Athletics Media Relations

Foul called, the bank is open

Reviewing the video, Brown grabbed Jerome’s jersey with approximately 4.1 seconds to to. The Tigers still had a foul to give so Virginia would get the ball on the sideline with that much time remaining.

UVA lines up a sideline set, Jerome is fouled before the inbounds pass. Pearl is going crazy.

Jerome makes the front end of the one-and-one free throws, but misses the second. Danjel Purifoy secures the rebound and is immediately fouled. There are still 3.6 seconds on the clock. Purifoy makes the long walk in front of a packed house to the other end for a one-and-one free throw challenge of his own. With only 13 attempts on the season, Purifoy had connected on 69.2% of his attempts. He’s a strong free throw shooter for his career, however, and it shows as he makes both shots.

Pearl decides to foul up three so when UVA gets Jerome the ball going toward the basket, the Tigers grab him around halfcourt with 1.3 seconds to go. The Tigers are still below 10 fouls somehow so Jerome walks to the line for another one-and-one scenario. He calms his nerves and easily makes the first. Jerome also makes the second when the ball hits the front rim and tumbles in, but Guy anticipated the situation and tried to sprint in from the 3-point line for a rebound too early. He’s called for a lane violation!

The Hoos trail 64-62. Since the call was a lane violation, Auburn has to hold its spot on the inbounds play and you see official James Breeding clearly point to the ground to remind Purifoy to stay put on the pass. Even so, in the rush to try to get the ball in under pressure, he shuffles his feet to move to his left to try to get the ball inbounds against some strong denial defense. Breeding calls the violation and Virginia now gets the ball back under its own basket.

Jerome steps to the baseline to trigger the pass and he sees De’Andre Hunter slip open to the left moving behind the 3-point line. The pass is a laser that hits Hunter in the hands and he’s got time with 1.3 seconds to go. Auburn is there on the catch but not close enough as Hunter lets the shot go. It looks like a line drive, but it hits the glass and banks in for the win!

Double dribbled called, but Indiana’s own makes the Butler shot

As Jerome comes up court, he loses the ball off his foot and picks up to dribble again. As soon as he does, the official makes the double dribble call with 2.5 seconds to go.

Auburn has to get the ball in from the side, but UVA covers most of it well. The Tigers lift a pass across the court toward the last option. Samir Doughty caught the ball just after it grazed off Guy’s fingers in a similar situation with 20.9 seconds remaining and may have walked once he landed, but Guy sniffs it out earlier this time and steals the ball cleanly.

As he goes for the steal, Guy is headed toward his own basket but there’s not much time remaining. He shoots it after one dribble near halfcourt a la Gordon Hayward in the 2010 title game. While Butler’s hopes clanged off the rim that year, Indiana is rewarded this time as native son Guy swishes the shot as the horn sounds!

Double dribbled called, the Grant Hill pass lives

As Jerome comes up court, he loses the ball off his foot and picks up to dribble again. As soon as he does, the official makes the double dribble call with 2.5 seconds to go.

Virginia is trying hard to force a steal or a 5-second call, but an official spots Kihei Clark holding on the play before the ball is inbounded. That sends Jared Harper back to the line just moments after he had missed his second free throw attempt, which would have given Auburn a 3-point lead. Facing the one-and-one scenario again with a 62-60 edge on the scoreboard, Harper somehow misfires again. Diakite grabs the rebound and the Cavaliers quickly call timeout all in one motion. There are 1.9 seconds remaining.

That’s almost the exact same amount of time as two other famous March Madness buzzer beaters with teams facing similarly dire straits. Bryce Drew had 2.5 seconds when his hook-and-ladder shot beat Ole Miss in 1998, while Christian Laettner had just 2.1 to go when his shot topped Kentucky in 1992.

The Hoos will need to come up with a long pass connection of their own. Nantz says on the air that “might as well heave it all the way the distance, a Grant Hill pass” and that’s exactly what Jerome does as the long baseball pass sails over the U.S. Bank Stadium floor. Hunter is cutting from the far baseline toward the ball and he beats his man to the spot at the top of the key where the touchdown throw is right on the money. Hunter catches, turns, and just beats the backboard lights with a shot attempt that hangs in the air for a Wahoo eternity before it splashes home.

Bill Raftery exclaims “Onions!” Hunter finishes the second half a perfect 6 of 6 and the Hoos win 63-62 anyway. The Hoos celebrate! The road to redemption continues for one last game and a shot at the National Championship.

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1 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Nobody ever mentions the double walk by Auburn on the inbound with 12 seconds left. Auburn player caught the inbounds pass and shuffled both feet twice. If that obvious walk is called , UVA has plenty of time to score

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