No, the refs weren't in the tank for Duke on RJ Barrett's game winner

There have been plenty of instances over the years to reasonably question what the referees were thinking when calls have gone Duke’s way.

We’re looking at you, ACC officials crediting Greg Paulus with taking a charge.

RJ Barrett’s game-winning putback to stave off UCF’s upset bid Sunday was not one of those moments.

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Barrett grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed Zion Williamson free throw to hit the go-ahead bucket with 11.8 second remaining. It proved to be the game winner in Duke’s 77-76 victory.

Did RJ Barrett get away with one?

It caused a bit of an uproar on Twitter with some claiming Barrett got away with a blatant shove on the play. Twitter user OGMiniGee’s synopsis below sums up that belief nicely.

Here’s the play in question. Barrett is the lone Blue Devil at the bottom of the lane here, wearing No. 5.

Where exactly is the foul?

So. Umm. What’s the outrage about again?

That looked very much like a player legally jockeying for position on a missed free throw that included standard contact under the basket that happens on almost every missed shot.

A foul called there in any moment would be a bad one. A call there in that moment — yikes.

Officials didn't cut R.J. Barrett or the Blue Devils a break in their victory over UCF. (Getty)
Officials didn't cut R.J. Barrett or the Blue Devils a break in their victory over UCF. (Getty)

What about calls going the other way?

This also brings up the ever-common topic of fans selectively choosing calls that don’t go one team’s way at a critical moment while ignoring calls that went the other way earlier in the game.

For instance — the apparent missed shot-clock violation that led to a Tacko Fall putback to give UCF a 74-70 lead with 2:09 remaining. Fall got a rebound on the play off a missed shot that didn’t appear to hit the rim as the shot clock expired. But officials on the court determined that the ball did hit the rim and did not signal a violation.

The call stood on replay when officials didn’t see enough to overturn it, despite video appearing to show the ball miss the rim. It was close. It was a tough call. It went UCF’s way.

And then there were the officials not calling Fall for his fifth foul until the game’s final moment despite what looked like a blatant foul earlier. UCF caught a break there.

Take a deep breath, let this one go

Look. It’s understandable that the Duke-hating nation is frustrated. For a few minutes Sunday, it looked like the Blue Devils’ Zion-led championship dreams were going down in flaming, dramatic, second-round fashion.

When they didn’t, that made a lot of people sad. So they lashed out. They blamed the refs. They criticized Barrett.

But in this instance, the critics were wrong. Duke won fair and square. Even if they looked quite beatable in doing so.

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