With the score tied at 57 and mere seconds remaining, Tennessee's Tobias Harris misfired on a shot from the deep left corner. Vol teammate Brian Williams managed to wrest the rebound away from Georgia's Chris Barnes, even though Barnes had inside position. Barnes then stumbled backward into Williams, who was staggering as he flung up an eight-foot follow shot at the buzzer.
Some observers thought Williams went "over the back" of Barnes and should've been called for a foul. Other observers thought Barnes should've been called for a foul, since he stumbled into Williams during the shot attempt. Others thought the "no call" was correct, since the contact appeared to be incidental.
Pearl, the Vol head coach who watched the ESPNU telecast from his Knoxville home as part of an ongoing eight-game suspension, had this to say about the wild finish during his Monday news conference:
"I think that gets called a foul on Brian Williams most of the time. But there were a couple of factors (in this instance) where I think it doesn't.
"The No. 1 factor was, I don't think it was a foul in this sense: Brian has two hands on the ball before he ever made contact with Barnes. He really does; he possesses the ball. Then there's contact - whether it's Brian coming over the back or Barnes backing up on him.
"If Brian doesn't have possession of the basketball prior to the contact, it probably is a bad 'no call.' But he has two hands on the ball before Barnes ever touched the ball."
Regardless of what should have been called or not called in the game's closing second, Pearl noted that one aspect of the play is indisputable:
"It was obviously a huge factor for us in winning the game."