Written by Adrian Beecher
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Virginia’s men’s basketball team has come full circle since the 2018 tournament where they became the lone No. 1 seed in tournament hstory to lose to a 16th seeded squad, by winning the 2019 Men’s NCAA Basketball National Title! They did it despite giving up multiple 10 and 8-point leads, however, it did take overtime, before they could seal the 85-77 win over Texas Tech.
Named ‘Most Outstanding Player’ of the tournament, Kyle Guy was happy to put the past behind the program, “That’s a dark path, a dark place that I think a lot of us were in. It was humiliation, embarrassment for our families, the program and ourselves. To be able to redeem all that and get this program something that’s never happened before is all that I could ever want.”
Here’s how it all went down at US Bank Stadium in the 2019 Men’s NCAA D1 Basketball National Title game Monday, April 8th, as the Hoos grabbed redemption!
Texas Tech won the tipoff, but it was Virginia getting the first basket of the night, which didn’t come until 1:50 into the game. The Red Raiders struggled from the field early as well with their first three points to take the lead coming off of free throws.
Guy sank home the Cavs 2nd basket of the game 5:24 into the 1st half to put UVA back on top 4-3. This was followed up with a triple on their next possession from Ty Jerome. Next, a dunk from Braxton Key made it 9-3 with 12:56 left in the half, forcing Red Raiders head coach Chris Beard to call timeout.
Out of the timeout, Davide Moretti sank home a triple to give Texas Tech their first basket from the field of the game. Then Kyle Guy answered the bell with a triple, pushing their lead back to six. The lead would extend to 10 with 9:51 left in the half.
That is when the Tech offense woke up to the tune of three triples on consecutive trips! Two came from Brandone Francis and one came from Kyler Edwards as part of a 9-2 run to make it a three point game with 8:24 left in the half.
A fourth straight triple would tie things up at 19 as Moretti sank another. The Raiders would ride the wave, taking the lead off two free throws from Edwards with 5:22 left in the half.
Then what started, as two defensive powers shutting each other down became a show of two heavyweight’s trading punches basket after basket. Matt Mooney sank a jumper to put Tech up four. UVA answered as Kihei Clarke sank a triple, to trim the deficit to one.
Francis then sank a step back jumper to push the Red Raider lead back to three. Guy answered for the Wahoos with a triple to tie things up at 27. Then two free throws from Moretti made it 29-27 Tech with 2:29 left in the half.
The offense for the Red Raiders would fizzle out the rest of the half, with UVA taking advantage with a jumper from De’Andre Hunter with 1:30 left in the game. As the half came to a close, Jerome sank a triple from the top of the key in the final seconds to send Virginia into the locker room with a 32-29 lead.
Leading the way for the Red Raiders at the half was Moretti and Francis with eight points each. For Virginia, it was Guy with 10 points, and Jerome added eight points and a team-high three assists.
Virginia came out in the second half, looking to send a message. Guy drained a triple to push the lead to six. Then after Tariq Owens turned it over for Tech, the Cavs got the line twice, with Hunter sinking both and then Mamadi Diakite making one of two, to make it a 38-29 lead for UVA 2:06 into the second half.
Tech was finally able to get their first bucket of the 2nd half with a layup from Francis with 17:45 left to play to trim the deficit to seven. As we reached the first media timeout of the 2nd half, Texas Tech trailed Virginia 42-35 with 14:15 left to play.
Out of the timeout, Edwards depleted a triple to cut the deficit to just four for the Red Raiders. However, with the answer at the other end, Hunter drained a triple. The party kept going with another one from the sharpshooter Francis trimming it back to four. However, the Cavs would quickly rally, pushing their lead back to nine as Jerome hit a jumper and Hunter drained a triple with 11:22 left to play.
After a jumper from Jarrett Culver cut it back to seven for Tech, Guy answered yet again. This time he drained a triple to extend the lead for the Cavs to 10 with 10:24 left to play.
Two buckets from Moretti ensued for Tech as they cut the deficit back to six. Jerome answered right back for UVA, starting what would be an exchanging of baskets over the next 3:31, with the margin fluctuating between eight and six for four time. However after cutting it to six with a basket from Edwards, the Red Raiders had more in store.
Mooney drained a triple with 4:15 left to play, cutting the deficit to three. Then a layup, plus an and one sank by Norense Odiase tied things up at 59 with only 3:30 left to play.
Mamadi Diakite then got to the line for Virginia, sinking both. This was answered with two free throws from Culver to tie it back up at 61 with 2:38 left on the clock. A quick basket from Hunter, a miss from Culver the other way and a layup from Guy ensuing that, all of the sudden put Virginia on top by four with only 1:44 left to play.
Texas Tech answered yet again, this time with a triple from Mooney, a block the other way by Odiase and then a layup from Culver to regain the lead at 66-65 with 42 seconds left. Then Odiase would add to the lead with two free throws, pushing the lead to 3 with only 22 seconds left.
However, the party was just getting started for UVA, as Hunter sank the game tying three with 14 seconds to play in regulation. Culver missed a triple at the other end of the floor. Hunter would turn the ball over on an arrant pass.
This set up the Red Raiders with the ball, out of bounds with 1.6 seconds left to play. On the inbound, Hunter got off a shot, but Braxton Key quickly blocked it, thus sending the Title game into overtime.
Overtime was a different story though. UVA answered first, with Hunter sinking two shots from the line. Then Mooney put the Red Raiders on top with a triple. Mooney followed this with a deuce after a UVA turn over to make it 73-70 TTU with 3:10 left in OT.
Shortly after Mooney’s OT burst is when the excitement for the 3rd seeded Red Raiders started to diminish, and fast.
Guy sank two free throws at the other end. Then Hunter followed this up with a triple, to make it 75-73 UVA with 2:09 left in OT. On the ensuing possession, Diakite blocked a shot from Culver. The Red Raiders corralled the offensive board, but Mooney missed the second chance shot from deep.
After another failed trip from UVA, Moretti turned the ball over. Jerome got to the line for Virginia and sank two shots to push their lead to four. Following a missed triple from Francis, Guy made his way to the line for the Wahoos, sinking both. This made it a 6-point game with only 31 seconds left in OT.
You could feel the energy being sucked out of the Texas Tech faithful! Culver missed another triple and Mooney fouled to send Diakite to the line, where he sank two of two, making it 81-73 with just 23 seconds left. Edwards added a layup at the other end to trim it back to six with 17 seconds left.
However, it was a lost cause at this point, with no help from defense in the frontcourt for Tech, Jerome threw a deep pass from the opposite baseline down the court to a wide open and running free Key, who slammed it home for UVA.
The Red Raiders made one last layup, coming from Francis, but the deed was done, as UVA’s Key sank two more free throws and history was made as the final buzzer sounded just four seconds after a missed triple from Mooney.
“We have a saying, ‘The most faithful win’ and these guys stayed so faithful. Obviously, we had some amazing plays. This is about the young men – they made the plays, they did the stuff,” said UVA head coach Tony Bennett post game, “Coaches get too much credit when it goes well and they get too much blame when it goes bad. These young men deserve this championship. I’m so happy, go Hoos!”
De’Andre Hunter led the scoring for Virginia with 27 points. It was however Kyle Guy that was named the ‘Most Outstanding Player’ of the tournament as a whole. Guy finished the National Title with 24 points, three rebounds and one steal. Diakite led the team with two blocks, while Key led the Wahoos with 10 boards.