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Auburn coach Bruce Peal questions officials over ejection of Chad Baker-Mazara in loss to Yale

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Auburn’s Chad Baker-Mazara was ejected for a flagrant 2 foul less than four minutes into the fourth-seeded Tigers’ first-round NCAA Tournament loss to No. 13 seed Yale on Friday.

Auburn was clearly depleted without Baker-Mazara, especially in the second half as Yale rallied to win 78-76, and Tigers coach Bruce Pearl questioned why officials decided the foul merited an ejection.

“That’s a pretty tough call. He had got hit about five seconds earlier, got tangled up, got a little bit of an elbow, they let it go, maybe nobody saw it, and about five seconds later Chad hit him,” Pearl said. “It was inappropriate. Clearly a flagrant 1. The fact that it was elevated to a flagrant 2 was a decision that the official had to make, but it obviously had tremendous impact on outcome.

“Chad is one of our best players, he’s one of our very best playmakers, and was a huge part of our game plan, so to lose him in that situation was really, really disruptive to our team on both ends of the floor.”

The foul occurred less than three minutes into the game and led to a lengthy review by officials that eventually led to Baker-Mazara being sent to the locker room. A few minutes later, Baker-Mazara posted on social media, “I believe in my boys they got em!!”

Replays showed that Baker-Mazara appeared to throw an elbow toward Yale’s August Mahoney as the pair ran downcourt. Mahoney immediately tried to get the attention of officials and once play stopped with 16:59 left, officials went to the replay monitor.

“Chad’s a big part of our team, even just as another body out there,” Auburn's Jaylin Williams said. “Chad brings a lot of offense to the game and gets stops and does all types of different things for us as well. So to have him out really hurt us a little bit.”

Baker-Mazara entered the game averaging 10.3 points. He didn't score prior to the ejection.

“I visited with him a little bit at halftime and he felt badly about it. He wished he had a do-over. But you don’t,” Pearl said. “A lot of aspects of the game, give Yale credit. They played great, they played defense, we turned the ball over too much. And that’s not to disguise the fact that we missed one of our best players. He’s one of our top two or three players.”

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