Controversial Sequence Ends Funderburk's Night Early

Brett Friedlander

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- D,J., Funderburk, coming off his first career double-double two days earlier, was well on its way to another big game Monday at Virginia.

But his night, along with that of his team, took a significant turn for the worse thanks to a strange series of events with just under seven minutes remaining.

The Wolfpack still managed to win 53-51 for its first ever victory in nine tries at John Paul Jones Arena. 

But its task became much more difficult thanks to a sequence that began with the junior forward taking an unpunished forearm to the throat and ended with him getting called for his fifth personal foul 30 feet from the basket less than a minute later -- with a technical for pulling an opponent's finger squeezed in between.

"It wouldn't be fair for me to comment on it any more past that until I take a look at the play," State coach Kevin Keatts said afterward, perhaps looking to keep from getting in trouble with the ACC office for commenting on the officiating.


"They called it a double foul," he added, before turning the tables on his questioner by asking him: "What did you see?"

The media member also pleaded the fifth. But thanks to the miracles of television and social media, there is video available to help you decide for yourself.

It started with what appears to be a forearm shiver delivered to Funderburk by UVA's Jay Huff  ...

Apparently, none of the three officials working the game -- Michael Stephens, James Breeding and Pat Driscoll -- saw the unprovoked blow. Either that or none of them thought that it rose to the level of a foul.

But at least one of them saw what happened next ...

On the ensuing possession, Funderburk -- perhaps mistaking the identity of the Cavalier that hit him a moment before -- pulled the finger of UVA's Francisco Caffaro as he walked past after a whistle.

Caffaro, taking exception to the gesture, then shoved Funderburk in the back.

The UVA player was called for a "common" foul. But Funderburk was slapped with a technical, which counted as his fourth personal. 

It should be noted that all three officials Monday have worked Final Fours. Also, for what it's worth, Breeding is the official that called the controversial foul on Auburn's Samir Doughty with 0.6 seconds remaining in last year's national semifinal that allowed Virginia's Kyle Guy to send the game into overtime on the way to its national championship.

"Honestly, I don't know what happened," Funderburk said. "I know he was pushing me in my back or hitting me in my back. I turned around and we had a couple of words exchanged. But they called something before we even started talking to each other. I mean, they're at home. They're going to get calls like that."

Funderburk had 14 points on 6 of 8 shooting on a night in which the Wolfpack made just 39 percent of its field goal attempts. He also had five rebounds, tying for the team lead.

But he was forced to spend the final 6:48 on the bench, because only seconds after the techical, the 6-foot-10 junior fouled out on a play in which he barely brushed UVA point guard Kihei Clark on a hedge 30 feet from the basket.

"It was like I came down on the next play," Funderburk said. "I was just playing defense and they called it again. It is what it is. I take the wins with the losses, the ups and the downs with the fouls and everything.

"Last year I used to foul a lot. But this year I've tried to limit my fouls. This will probably be the first and the last time I foul out."

Funderburk's absence down the stretch was compounded by the fact that the team was already two players down, with fellow big man Manny Bates not making the trip while in concussion protocol and graduate forward Pat Andree nursing a sore foot.

Somehow, though, the six remaining schoalrship players managed to pull through, rally from a four-point deficit and pull out the win.

Markell Johnson, Jericole Hellems and C.J. Bryce all made big baskets after Funderburk went out and his seldom-used replacement Danny Dixon contributed to a stout defense that held UVA without a field goal for the final 4 1/2 minutes.

"They rallied together, stayed together," Funderburk said of his teammates. "C.J. hit a big shot down the stretch, (Markell) hit a big three, Devon (Daniels) played with tremendous effort, Danny came in and just balled out. 

"I respect all of them. I love all of them. I'm just glad we got the win."