Minneapolis, MN – It figured to be a defensive slug fest as Texas Tech brought the nations’ top-rated defense to face Virginia and the nations’ fifth-rated defense for the national championship on Monday night. The game started off that way, but that’s not how it finished as Virginia escaped with a thrilling 85-77 overtime win over the Red Raiders before 72,062 fans at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. It was Virginia’s first NCAA basketball championship. De’Andre Hunter led the Cavaliers with 27 points while Kyle Guy added 24 points and Ty Jerome scored 16. Jerome also added a game-high eight assists and six rebounds. Virginia connected on twelve straight free throws in the overtime, including eight straight in the final minute to seal the victory. Brandone Francis led Texas Tech with 17 points.
Hunter nailed a three-pointer from the corner with ten seconds left in regulation to tie the game up at 68. Jerome drove the lane and appeared willing to score on a layup when the Red Raider defense switched on him, leaving Hunter open in the corner. It was a tactical late game error by the vaunted Texas Tech defense and added yet another late reprieve in this tournament for the Cavaliers. Hunter came alive for Virginia in the second half, and in the overtime, scoring 23 of his 27 points after the halftime break and solidifying his place as a high lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.
Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, another likely lottery pick, had his second straight poor shooting night. The Red Raiders were able to win despite Culver’s 3-of-12 shooting on Saturday against Michigan State but were unable to get past his 5-of-22 (0-of-6 3s) shooting performance tonight. Culver did contribute in other ways, coming up with nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.. The Red Raiders’ Tariq Owens fouled out with 5:46 remaining. Coming off an ankle injury suffered on Saturday, Owens wasn’t much of a factor ending the evening with three points, five rebounds and one block. After scoring a game-high 22 points against Michigan State, Virginia guarded Matt Mooney very closely, giving him only a few open shooting opportunities. Mooney was limited to 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting (2-of-6 3s).
The Texas Tech defense has been limiting their opponents to 36 percent shooting this season. However, Virginia executed their offense efficiently and connected on 45.8 percent (27-of-59) on their shots tonight, including 11-of-24 three-pointers. Guy (8-of-15, 4-of-9 3s) shot well all night and Hunter made seven of his eight shots after halftime. With Culver having an off night offensively, Mooney bottled up and Owens relatively ineffective the Red Raiders scoring concentrated on Francis. Kyler Edwards and Davide Moretti. Francis’s 17 points came on 7-of-12 shooting including 3-of-7 from deep. Moretti added 15 points (5-of-10, 3-of-6 3s) and Edwards added 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including two threes. The Red Raiders were 10-of-30 from distance while Virginia had a +7 rebounding edge with Braxton Key pulling down ten boards.
The game started with Texas Tech making only one of their first eleven shots. Then they connected on three 3-pointers in a row, two by Francis to cut a ten-point Virginia lead down to 19-16. They then tied the game at 19 on a three from Moretti. The Red Raiders took their first lead at 23-21 on two free throws by Edwards. A 3-pointer from the corner for Virginia’s Guy tied the game at 27 with 2:58 remaining in the half. Hunter missed his first seven shots but connected on a jumper with 1:30 left in the half to tie the game at 29. Jerome followed with a 3-pointer on the last possession of the half to give the Cavaliers a 32-29 halftime lead.
The Red Raiders connected on seven of their last 13 shot attempts, including four 3-pointers, after their poor start. They shot 8-of-24 for the half including 5-of-12 from distance. Virginia shot a respectable 41.4 percent (12-of-29) and 5-of-11 on 3s. The Cavaliers had a +8 (21-13) rebounding advantage. The half was played with minimal turnovers with the Red Raiders committing only three and Virginia five. Moretti and Francis led Texas Tech at the break with eight points each. Guy added ten points for Virginia, connecting on 2-of-4 3s. Jerome also made 2-of-4 3s. The Red Raiders Culver missed all of his six first half shots.
Virginia’s Guy was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. He was joined on the All=Tournament Team by teammates Hunter and Jerome and Texas Tech’s Culver and Mooney.