You won’t find many last-minute finishes like Kentucky and Auburn had Saturday on the Plains.
With Kentucky clinging to a two-point lead, Tigers guard Jared Harper drilled a contested three-ball over Ashton Hagans, giving Auburn an 80-79 lead with the arena erupting and seemingly caving in on the young Wildcats.
But Kentucky would get the lead back after Tyler Herro was fouled on the other end and hit both free throws, which allowed the Wildcats to escape with an 82-80 win.
However, Auburn tried to prevent Kentucky from having a chance to win the game with a flop.
After the Harper shot, as Kentucky was going down the court, Tigers guard Bryce Brown appears to attempt to draw an offensive foul on Reid Travis, which would have given Auburn the ball with a one-point lead with under 30 seconds, likely ensuring they would go on to win.
Travis doesn’t appear to exert any force on Brown, who falls backward as if Travis pushed off.
Now, it’s possible that Brown simply tripped, but the way he falls backward makes it really appear he was trying to sell a foul.
While it was a flop, there was contact between Travis and Brown, so at game speed, it may have looked like an offensive foul to the refs.
But the real key here is how Brown falling down actually helped Herro get behind the defense and get fouled before getting an easy layup. Because Brown went down, that led to Harper switching to Travis, which left Herro unguarded with a clear path to the basket.
Another thing the flop did was cause forward Horace Spencer to help Brown up instead of getting back to the rim. Had Brown not flopped, Spencer is probably in the paint and can at least contest Herro’s shot.
To his credit, Brown had nearly won Auburn the game before the play, as he scored 25 of his 28 points in the second half. He was 7/7 from the field and 5/5 from deep in the second half, which helped fuel the Tiger’s 53 second-half points that almost rallied them to victory.
Brown was nearly the difference in the win from just his offensive output, but he tried to steal the game with a flop that thankfully wasn’t called.
While you’d like to think the officials are competent enough to see it wasn’t a foul, they can’t even determine what a flagrant foul is after reviewing it on a monitor.