NEW ORLEANS — Armando Bacot thought he had the angle and with it the chance to give North Carolina the lead for good.
The Tar Heels followed by less than a minute and they had the ball in the capable hands of their star striker.
But when Bacot made his move and the shot clock ran out, he lost his balance. He twisted his right ankle – the ankle he injured late Saturday in a thrilling win over bitter rival Duke and restricted his movement – and hit the deck. Kansas had the ball and the lead. It never gave back and prevailed 72-69 in a memorable national championship game on Monday night at Caesars Superdome.
“I thought I made a good move,” said Bacot, a 6-foot-10 junior. “I thought it would have been an easy basket.”
Bacot hopped on one leg and made it back downcourt, refusing to let his injury result in an easy basket for Kansas. The time finally rang, but Bacot was done. Without him on the ground, David McCormack hit the post to extend the Kansas lead to three with 22.5 seconds left and North Carolina couldn’t even draw on their last two possessions as Caleb Love missed twice from 3-point range .
Despite his weak right ankle, Bacot became the first player in NCAA tournament history to hit six double-doubles. After back-to-back 20-rebound performances, he had 15 points and 15 rebounds Monday and did everything in his power to lead the Tar Heels to the title.
“It’s not just his performance tonight. The performance he put on tonight has been consistent throughout the year,” said Hubert Davis, Tar Heels’ first-year coach. “And that’s why he’s one of the better players in the country.”
Monday night ended a remarkable turnaround for North Carolina, leading from the bubble to the final game of the season. The Tar Heels won 17 of 20 games to reach the national championship, twice defeating nemesis Duke in the process. Last month, the Tar Heels ruined the last home game of Mike Krzyzewski’s Hall of Famer career and beat him again in the Final Four — the first NCAA tournament game between the rivals. The tar heels just didn’t have enough to fell the nets.
“I would say this season has been successful just with Coach Davis as the coach. He’s been great all year,” said Bacot. “This will not be the last time you see this program here.”
https://nypost.com/2022/04/05/march-madness-north-carolina-doomed-by-armando-bacot-injury/ North Carolina doomed by injury to Armando Bacot