Redemption complete: Wahoos will themselves to national championship win over Texas Tech

Game Highlights

We knew it was going to take a magnificent performance against a historically good defense.

And that's exactly what Virginia gave on the offensive end of the floor Monday night in Minneapolis.

De'Andre Hunter saved his best performance for (presumably) last with a career-high 27 points and a legendary, tying 3-pointer late in regulation as the Wahoos brought the program's first men's basketball national championship back to Charlottesville with an 85-77 victory over Texas Tech that was every bit as dramatic as the two wins that preceded it.

We thought it was going to take big nights from the Big Three, and we got it: Hunter went 4 for 5 on 3-pointers after dreadful deep shooting for several consecutive contests and almost had a double-double with nine rebounds. Kyle Guy went 4 for 9 from deep and recorded 24 points. Ty Jerome almost notched a double-double, too, with 16 points on a 2-for-6 night from downtown, eight assists, and six rebounds.

We thought a few role players were going to need to step up, and they did: Mamadi Diakite capped his superb NCAA tournament play with nine points, seven boards, and two blocks. Braxton Key came off the bench and was tough as nails on the glass, grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds while chipping in six points, two assists, and a timely block on Jarrett Culver's potential winning shot at the end of regulation. Kihei Clark played his trademark pesky 'D' on Matt Mooney, hit another big postseason 3-pointer, and tallied four assists.

We said Virginia must be better at the line than it was against Auburn. The Cavaliers were incredible, going 20 for 23 and 12 for 12 in overtime.

And no one discounted that luck was involved in this run through the Big Dance, and it almost always factors into any champion's run, and so we thought that might play a role. Well, fortune smiled upon the Cavaliers again. Virginia blew not one, but two, 10-point leads, fell behind for the third game in a row with under a minute left in regulation, and pulled it out again with some clutch plays and favor from the basketball gods. The 'Hoos also got a very, very close out-of-bounds call overturned in overtime on what could have easily been deemed evidence that was not quite conclusive enough.

That complete performance fans were yearning for, one that the team hadn't displayed in a long while? Virginia gave it. UVa showed it was the best team all along in college basketball. The doubters, the haters, the critics, there isn't much more they can say, because a "boring" banner-hanging will be taking place at John Paul Jones Arena in the near future.

The theme for the season was resiliency, and it was borne out over and over again in the NCAA tournament. The mental fortitude that Tony Bennett developed in his guys after UMBC was simply extraordinary coaching. Coaches are fond of breaking their players down so they can build them back up. In a way, UMBC did that, and this team roared back stronger than ever.

The storybook finish has been penned, one of which even Thomas Jefferson would be proud. It is simply one of the best sports stories in history.


Savor this, Wahoo fans, and stick with Hoos Place as we give you reaction, commentary, analysis and more over the coming days.

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