virginia cavaliers mens basketball
virginia cavaliers mens basketball

Many are calling the Virginia Cavaliers win on Monday night one of the great redemption stories in recent sports history. Like the Baylor/Notre game on Sunday night, Virginia went toe-to-toe with Texas Tech to only narrowly defeat them in overtime. It was only a year ago that the Cavaliers had suffered one of the biggest upsets ever, falling to a number 16 seed. During the Elite Eight, and even times over the weekend, it seemed like the Cavaliers were in over their head. But it was De’Andre Hunter who stepped up and forced the overtime, which eventually lead to their victory.

It was a bitter ending for Texas Tech, who had grabbed their lead in the first half with very little time left. That was quickly snatched away when their own defense left Hunter wide open, in order to hit that shot. Jarrett Culver wasn’t able to score at the other end, and that’s when desperation kicked in. From this point on there wasn’t a lot of scoring, but Hunter’s big shot was what the Cavaliers needed to break away. Hunter started the game 1-for-8, yet finished 8-for-16 for 27 points, turning it on late while also locking up Culver, his fellow lottery prospect, who went just 5-for-22, including six misses from three-point range. Both teams shook off awful offensive starts to the game to play a thrilling, back-and-forth final 25 minutes.

What’s really great about the game is that both schools were making their national title game debut. Texas Tech lost in the Elite Eight last year, and Virginia became the first number 1 to fall to number 16. And ever since then, Virginia has been out to prove something.

“I think we started believing I ourselves since the loss last year, in a way that’s different than any other team I’ve been a part of. Obviously last year we thought that we could win it all. We were 31-3, best team in the country, and we had a chance. I don’t know if that was hope or belief. I know this year that there was a belief, as soon as that buzzer sounded last year, that we were going to do something special this year. I think you see the growth from that. (Against) Gardner-Webb we’re down 10 (in the first game this year) or whatever – same position as last year – and we didn’t panic. We just buckled down and tried to take care of business.”

Kyle Guy, Guard, Virginia Cavaliers

All-in-all, you kind of wonder how these teams scored as many points as they did. There was only one field goal in the first 5:25 of the game and Texas Tech didn’t sink a shot until nearly eight minutes into it, snapping an 0-for-8 start. Culver followed up his 0-for-6 start from the field in the semi-final against Michigan State with an 0-for-6 opening 20 minutes, including a bit of foreshadowing in the form of an opening possession air ball. And Hunter wasn’t much better, starting 1-for-8 as both players shut each other down, showcasing the other sides of their games, which is what intrigues NBA personnel.

Overall, the game was kind of amazing. How many of us expected Virginia to get this far, let alone win. Virginia beat Texas Tech with an 85-77 win during overtime. This is one of those games that will definitely go down in history.