What should have been remembered as a thrilling overtime contest between North Carolina and a reinvigorated Louisville team was spoiled by a final stretch of officiating that was ... I’ll let you insert the adjective of your choosing here.
I’m sitting here and I’m not really sure what to write because I’m not entirely sure what I just watched.
There was this near the end of regulation, which I believe should have been foul No. 9 on Armando Bacot.
Armando Bacot trips and then grabs Jarrod West's leg, no call pic.twitter.com/T7D3G0rkEH— Main Team (@MainTeamSports2) February 2, 2022
At the very least it should have been foul No. 5 on North Carolina’s best player, which would have kept him on the bench for the final moments of regulation and all of overtime.
Then, in OT, after getting into a brief scrum with Matt Cross, there was this complete flop from Bacot.
What a bitch Bacot is - the biggest flop in the history of flops pic.twitter.com/wAScp13Epc— Chris (@CPark_1985) February 2, 2022
After a far-too-lengthy review, the officials whistled a technical foul on Jae’Lyn Withers. That call fouled Withers — who was playing easily his best of the season — out of the game and once again allowed the Tar Heels to widen their lead.
And then just moments later there was this play.
Both sides reacted as if a foul had just been called on Bacot because, well, it was a pretty obvious foul on Bacot. Inexplicably, Sydney Curry was whistled for the foul.
After a replay was shown to the home crowd and Cardinal bench, an incensed Mike Pegues slammed his fist on the scorer’s table and was hit with a technical foul.
A Louisville team that had shown remarkable resilience all night couldn’t withstand that much, and ultimately fell by a final score of 90-83.
The national media took notice.
The whistle Louisville is getting right now is amazing. Don’t see a home team get worked like this very often.— Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) February 2, 2022
There’s been some poorly officiated games this season, but the end of this Louisville Carolina game is up there. Hilariously bad.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) February 2, 2022
Even North Carolina fans couldn’t help but acknowledge what had just taken place.
I love Tar Heels basketball and have since I was 5 years old, but mercy, the officials gifted them one against Louisville tonight. Full-scale ref show.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) February 2, 2022
Holy crap. I love UNC but Bacot has gotten away with a trip, a flop and that grab there too.— Chris McClain (@macwfnz) February 2, 2022
On one hand, I honestly can’t remember the last time I was this angry after a basketball game and I want to write 3,000 words on how I’d give every penny I own to get Louisville out of this conference forever.
On the other, it’s a credit to this team and their perseverance that all of us are this upset. Ten days ago, no one would have cared. Of course ten days ago, this team probably loses by 16 after going through the motions for 40 minutes.
And that’s the point, everyone wearing white played their absolute asses off tonight, even after ... everything.
Mike Pegues suspended the team’s leading scorer and rebounder (and three-year captain) indefinitely and in the process sent a clear message not just to the other guys on the team, but to everyone associated with Louisville basketball: These last five weeks are going to be about doing the right thing. The guys who handle all of this drama with maturity and strength, they’re the ones you’re going to see in uniform and on the court. The ones who don’t, they can get an early start on whatever their next move is.
There may not be enough time left in this season to turn anything around, but Saturday and tonight made it clear beyond the shadow of any doubt that between now and whenever the season ends in March, the guys wearing red, white and black are going to claw tooth and nail to the finish line.
These guys deserved so much better than they got tonight, and they’ll earn better at some point over the next five weeks.