NASHVILLE — Facing a 32-point deficit in the second half of Auburn’s SEC tournament game against Tennessee, Tigers coach Bruce Pearl let loose.
But instead of going the traditional route — yelling at the game officials — Pearl turned his attention toward a pair of SEC bigwigs sitting courtside: conference commissioner Greg Sankey and basketball officiating coordinator Jake Bell.
Referee Tony Greene whistled Pearl for a technical foul in the middle of the coach’s rant, which was unintelligible, animated and hurled directly at Sankey and Bell.
“I just thought it was a foul. That’s what I said, ‘That’s a foul,’ ” Pearl said after the game when asked about the moment.
Pearl is near the end of his second season at Auburn. His head coaching resumé most notably includes a stint at Tennessee from 2005-2011 that featured six NCAA tournament appearances.
His old school turned Wednesday night’s first-round game into a laugher. The Volunteers led 69-37 with 11:38 remaining at the time of the technical.