UPDATE II: This blurb is from Andy Katz:
The Big East will investigate how the officials handled the West Virginia-Louisville game, especially in going to the monitor to (ahem) look at the shot clock when they may have actually been looking at who should have possession on an out-of-bounds play. Official Mike Kitts didn’t make a call and when no call is made on the floor, the possession goes to the team with the alternating possession arrow, which was Louisville. The ball actually did go off Louisville and West Virginia got the ball. So while the call was right it was not handled correctly. Louisville coach Rick Pitino criticized the officials by saying he was “tired of the officiating.” The Big East says it will investigate.
UPDATE: Card Chronicle has a frame by frame replay of second out of bounds call, and for the life of me I have no clue who the ball was off of. The angle sucks, and I have no idea which arm belongs to which player.
One thing I wish I had mentioned in the original post is that while the refs clearly had an off day, all of the blame shouldn't be put on their shoulders. They weren't the ones that allowed West Virginia to go on a 13-2 run. They weren't the ones that couldn't figure out the 1-3-1 zone that Huggy Bear threw at them. So while it is a tough loss for the Cardinals, and while Rick Pitino has every right to be mad, he should remember that his team did, in fact, blow this game as well.
West Virginia pulled out a nail-biter against Louisville today. The Mountaineers jumped out to a 13-0 lead on the Cardinals, but gave it all away as the Cardinals would use a 28-11 run to take a 44-37 lead near the end of the first half. With just six minutes remaining in the game, the Cardinals were still up 70-60, but West Virginia would go on a run capped by a Devin Ebanks and-one bucket to give WVU their first lead since early in the first half at 73-72.
And, believe it or not, that's when it got interesting.
After two Jerry Smith free throws gave the Cardinals the lead with under a minute left, it was West Virginia ball. Joe Mazzulla drove left and had the ball knocked out of bounds off of his head right in front of the ref.
He missed the call.
West Virginia ball. On the ensuing inbounds, Da'Sean Butler nailed a 15 footer to give WVU the lead with 15 seconds left. At the other end, after a Reginald Delk missed three (where he looked as if he was fouled), the rebound went out of bounds. But referee Mike Kitts ducked to avoid getting hit with the ball. As a result, he didn't see who knocked the ball out of bounds. After some discussion, the ball was given to West Virginia. (I still have yet to see an explanation as to why the ball was given to WVU. If you come across anything, drop us a line.)
ESPN didn't give a good angle on the replays, but it appears as if it, too, went off a West Virginia player.
Take a look at the two plays:
Needless to say, Rick Pitino was incensed. He only spoke to the media for 32 seconds after the game. Rick Bozich of the Louisville Courier-Journal was able to get the entirety of the interaction on video:
Yea, he was pretty upset. (Ed. Note: I think the call that Pitino is referring to wasn't against Pitt, it was against Seton Hall. See the video here. If it wasn't, then Louisville has gotten hosed in three games this season. Yeesh.)
So what is the answer?
I don't know.
But what I will say is this: I wouldn't be surprised if Pitino got fined for his comments or fined for skipping the press conference after the game (although, I bet he skipped the press conference to avoid criticizing the officials and getting a fine). I don't blame him. If I was in his shoes, I would be just as angry as he is. Beating West Virginia on the road isn't just a win, it was the resume win that Louisville needed. It may end up being the difference between an NCAA and an NIT berth for Louisville.
If Pitino is going to get fined for speaking out against what is so obviously a horrendous call, then shouldn't the officials be punished for making the call? A fine? A suspension?
Its ridiculous for the officiating to be that terrible down the stretch. Blowing those calls changed the outcome of a game, and possibly a season. That should be unacceptable.