"Me personally, I thought it was a foul", Riller said, "but it's not my job to worry about the calls".
"They're trying to make history", Pearl said.
"One of the best guards in the SEC was guarding him and you saw what happened", teammate Mustapha Heron said. "I'm not going to be shy about that". Auburn will face the victor of the nightcap between 5-seed Clemson and 12-seed New Mexico on Sunday at a time to be announced.
The Cougars had a chance to tie the game after Davion Mitchell missed two free throws with 14 seconds remaining that would have iced the victory, but Bryce Brown got a hand in front of Grant Riller's 3-point attempt in the closing seconds. That was just enough to prevent Auburn from becoming the third No. 4 seed to fall in the first round of the NCAA tournament, joining Arizona and Wichita State.
To reach that point, No. 4 seed Auburn (26-7) will have to beat No. 5 seed Clemson on Sunday (6:10 p.m. CT, TBS).
Nervousness plagued Auburn (26-7) in the estimation of Pearl, who attributed the team's surprisingly poor free-throw shooting - 15 of 32 - to excessive pressure of representing the Southeastern Conference.
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The Tigers are tied at 25 with College of Charleston at halftime of their Midwest Region matchup on Friday night.
With senior guard Joe Chealey hobbled by a sprained ankle, there was no doubt who 13th-seeded Charleston coach Earl Grant would turn to trailing fourth-seeded Auburn by three points with 13 seconds left in the game. "They had a chance to win it at the end". "I feel like in the second half we really picked up our defensive effort".
Jarrell Brantley was the leading scorer for the Cougs with 24 points. Harper finished the game with 6 points, while Okeke finished with 2. Then, Okeke, who shoots 69 percent from the line, tossed the ball to sophomore guard Jared Harper, who knocks down free throws at an 82 percent clip, and Harper ended up standing at the free-throw line.
Riller lauded the "pretty good defense" of his opponent, Bryce Brown.
Auburn's defense forced 21 turnovers in the game against a Charleston team that averaged less than 10 per game.