After losing to 16th seeded UMBC last year Virginia was criticized more than any other team, now they are 40 minutes away from winning the National Championship. The road to get here was not easy but the Cavaliers are here thanks to now two improbable wins in the Elite Eight and in the Final Four. Now, Tony Bennett is one win away from redeeming himself and bringing Virginia its first-ever National Championship.
The game started off with one of the fastest played first half’s in Final Four history, as very little fouls were called, neither team took a timeout in the first half and the under-4 TV timeout never took place. The pace favored Virginia from the start, with both teams playing to a slower pace, although late in the first half, Auburn was able to make a run to take a 31-28 halftime lead.
Virginia came out of the first half on an 8-0 run to take a 36-31 lead, while taking control of the game. They were able to keep that lead for the majority of the second half while stretching it to 57-47 on a Ty Jerome three with 5:24 left in the game, which appeared to be the dagger, then things fell apart for the Cavaliers.
Ty Jerome picked up his fourth foul just before the under-4 timeout, forcing him to the bench and allowing Bryce Brown to get open and make back to back three-pointers to cut the lead to three. With Jerome coming back into the game after the media timeout, Auburn still had momentum and they were able to get a Danjel Purifoy jumper and a Bryce Brown three on back to back possessions to give Auburn a 59-57 lead.
Down two, Virginia got Ty Jerome back to back three-point attempts but with both missing and time ticking down, Virginia was forced to foul. Anfernee McLemore made both of his free throws to make it a 14-0 run and a 61-57 lead for Auburn. The Cavaliers then gave it to Kyle Guy for a corner three to cut the lead to one. Jared Harper made 1 of 2 free throws after getting fouled, which put 62-60 and brought pure madness.
Auburn had only four fouls with 7 seconds to play, so they wanted to give a couple to give Virginia less time to work with. The first foul was called on Samir Doughty with about 5 seconds left in the game. Following that, Virginia inbounded to Ty Jerome who dribbled, lost control of the ball and dribbled again, which was a double-dribble, which was not called. Jared Harper fouled following that, leaving Virginia 1.5 seconds to work with.
Virginia decided to run a play intended for Mamadi Diakite at the rim but Kyle Guy broke free for a three, the shot missed, sending Auburn fans into a frenzy. The thing is that Kyle Guy wasn’t allowed to land on his three-point attempt, as Samir Doughty was in his landing area. The result, was a foul and three free throws for Kyle Guy. Guy made all three free throws and Virginia once again escaped with a win.
With much controversy on the call NCAA national coordinator of officials, J.D. Collins said Breeding’s call was correct. The foul violated the rule that “verticality applies to a legal position and also to both the offensive and defensive players,” Collins said. “The defender may not `belly up’ or use the lower part of the body or arms to cause contact outside his vertical plane or inside the opponent’s vertical plane.”
Whether or not you may agree with the calls made, the result is over and Virginia is playing Monday night for the National Championship. For Virginia, Ty Jerome carried a big load offensively, scoring 21 points and grabbing 9 rebounds, while Kyle Guy had 15 points, and De’Andre Hunter had 14.
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