Final four lives up to the hype as UVA takes the title

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Kyle Guy nervously awaiting his three free throws that would lead Virginia to victory over Auburn, sending them to the finals in Minneapolis.

Another year of the madness of college basketball has come and gone. One year after becoming the first one-seed team to lose in the first round, the University of Virginia men’s basketball team avenged their loss and cut down the nets in Minneapolis.

The first matchup of the 2019 Final Four took place on Saturday between Auburn and UVA. After a tightly contested first half, Auburn came out up 31-28. After such a solid run, however, Virginia began dominating the pace of the game, shutting down Auburn on defense, and securing a double digit lead with under five minutes to play. This lead did not last long, as Auburn made a valiant comeback and took a four point lead with 17 seconds to go. After a clutch three pointer by senior guard Kyle Guy, and a free throw from Jared Harper of Auburn, the Tigers lead 62-60 with seven seconds to go. The ball was inbounded to junior guard Ty Jerome, who was fouled by an Auburn player with 1.5 seconds on the clock. With only enough time for a catch and shoot, Virginia inbounded the ball to Guy, one of the best shooters in the nation. Guy immediately pulled up for a three in the left corner and was undercut on his jump, resulting in an Auburn shooting foul. With just 0.6 seconds on the clock, Guy knocked down all three free throws. Virginia won 63-62, reaching their first national championship berth.

After a reluctant win for Virginia came the Michigan State vs. Texas Tech matchup. Both teams wore their hearts on their sleeves from the tip-off, scrapping for loose balls and rebounds, resulting in a 23-21 halftime score. Despite a low-scoring first half, Texas Tech exploded in the second half, with an incredible display of shooting by senior guard Matt Mooney, notching a game-high 22 points. Late in the game, star forward Jarrett Culver took over, scoring seven of Tech’s last nine points in the final minutes. This included a three point dagger to take the lead by seven, securing the Red Raiders’ spot in the national championship game.

On Monday night, Virginia was trying to set a record for the second straight year in a row (this time hopefully for the better). It was neck and neck through most of the game, and when it seemed that Texas Tech was going to take the trophy home, Virginia sophomore DeAndre Hunter proved them wrong. Hunter drained a clutch three with 12 seconds to go to tie the game, sending the national championship to overtime. Virginia were shot from guns at the start of overtime and quickly found their rhythm, running away with the game 85-77.

“I’m really proud to be a UVA fan,” senior Dermot O’Kelly said. “After the humiliation of last year’s loss to UMBC, it feels great to have the last laugh.”