For a brief few minutes on Saturday night, it looked like Armando Bacot would not be able to continue.

Moments earlier, he rolled his ankle after accidentally stepping on the foot of teammate Leaky Black. Bacot had to be helped off the floor, seemingly unable to put any weight on his injured foot.

But a short time later, Bacot was seen triumphantly returning the court for crunch time vs. the Blue Devils.

Bacot ended up fouling out with just under a minute remaining in the game. He finished with just 11 points, but corralled a staggering 21 rebounds. He completely dominated Duke’s front court of Mark Williams, Theo John and Paolo Banchero.

As it turns out, Bacot’s return to the game almost never happened.

“It was very painful,” Bacot said in a postgame interview. “I thought 100% I was out for the game. And then I kinda walked it off a little bit … and something just hit me in my mind, I’m like ‘I’m in the greatest college basketball game of all time.’ There was no chance that I was sitting out. So I just had to thug it out.”

The rest is history. North Carolina advances to face Kansas in the National Championship game on Monday night. Tipoff is at 9:20 p.m. ET.