The NCAA basketball season officially ended Monday night, when Virginia defeated Texas Tech 85-77 at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The first semifinal between Texas Tech and Michigan State was all about defense. The Red Raiders clamped down on the Spartans, allowing only three players to score in the first half. That defense was key in the first half, as Texas Tech’s offense sputtered throughout the game.
The main catalyst for Texas Tech’s in the second half would be senior guard Matt Mooney. Mooney would hit four 3-point shots and score 22 points in the game, as TTU star player Jarrett Culver continued to struggle from the field. Michigan State was helpless on offense, shooting just 32 percent from the field as TTU won 61-51.
In the nightcap, Virginia and Auburn provided an entertaining game that would come down to the wire. Auburn, who at one point was down ten to the Cavaliers, stormed back thanks to a 14-0 run within the last five minutes of the game. Down four with 17 seconds remaining, Virginia’s Kyle Guy hit a big 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining.
Virginia fouled Auburn’s Jared Harper, who would split his free throws on the other end. A controversial no-call ensued when Virginia’s Ty Jerome may have double dribbled bringing the ball up the court, even though there may have been a missed foul call on Auburn right before. With under two seconds left, Virginia inbounded to Guy who missed on a corner three. However, a foul was called on Auburn’s Samir Doughty. Guy would go to the line, sinking all three free throws and handing Virginia a 63-62 win.
In the final, things got off to a slow start before Virginia got on a 15-4 run to take a ten-point lead. Texas Tech came storming back, hitting a barrage of threes on the Cavs as they took a 25-21 lead. Virginia responded quickly, however, and would take a 32-29 lead into the half.
In the second half, Virginia would again strike first as a quick 6-0 run extended their lead to nine. Texas Tech tried to respond, but could only stem the tide as the clock ticked. However, with under four minutes to go, the Red Raiders would tie it up, thanks to an 8-0 run.
With 35 seconds left, and Texas Tech down by one point, Culver hit Virginia’s DeAndre Hunter with a spin move and go-ahead layup, as Texas Tech pulled ahead 66-65. A Jerome jumper on the other end went off the mark, and Odiase would hit both free throws on the other end. But Hunter, looking for redemption, hit a corner 3-pointer on the other end. Culver missed a three on the other end, but a Virginia turnover would give TTU one last shot. The in-bounds went to Culver, but the shot wouldn’t go as the game went to overtime.
With 41 seconds left in OT, a pair of Jerome free throws gave Virginia a four-point lead. Texas Tech failed to convert on the other end, and Virginia would ice the game at the foul line. With the win came Virginia’s first ever national championship, and it comes a year after becoming the first ever 1-seed to lose in the first round of the tournament. Also with this win, Virginia completes one of the most improbable comeback stories in college basketball.
Header photo courtesy of the Associated Press.