Rick Pitino said he was yelling at his own player. The referee didn't disagree, but assessed the Louisville coach with a technical foul anyway. It turned out to be a boon for the fourth-seeded Cardinals.
Louisville went on a 25-10 run after Pitino's tech to storm back from an 11-point deficit to defeat No. 7-seed Florida, 72-68. The comeback began when Pitino went ballistic while yelling at one of his players for getting his fourth foul.
Pitino explained his side of the story after the game.
"I'm yelling to Peyton Siva, why would you foul him, and the referee gives me a technical," Pitino told Reggie Miller. "I'm yelling at my own player!"
Technically, Pitino's excuse was correct. Replays showed that he wasn't yelling at referee Karl Hess, but at Siva for a ticky-tack fourth foul that forced him to the bench and gave Florida two free throws.
But Hess didn't whistle Pitino for the verbal tirade; he T'd him up because he was doing it while on the court, 10 feet past the coaching box. When Siva got the foul, Pitino sprinted down the sideline and came out onto the floor. By the time he stopped, he was almost at half court.
Another ref might have let it slide. Not Hess, a notoriously whistle-happy official who carries the air of someone who believes fans pay to see him. Hess gained national infamy earlier this season when he ejected two NC State legends for heckling him during a game.
And despite the halo Pitino anointed himself in the postgame interview, he had been boiling for most of the second half. He was all over the ref for not calling a five-second violation on Florida, then sarcastically told Hess to "give [Florida coach Billy Donovan] a whistle" when Gorgui Dieng was whistled for a questionable foul.
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