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Virginia wins its first NCAA basketball championship, defeating Texas Tech, 85-77
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Virginia, a fine tortoise of a program with a lukewarm history, a knack for deliberative basketball

MINNEAPOLIS — Virginia, a fine tortoise of a program with a lukewarm history, a knack for deliberative basketball and an unthinkable splat of 13 months ago, spent Monday night climbing the last jagged rungs to a pinnacle. Befitting its penchant for eluding trouble, it even climbed one additional rung, overtime, with a burst of offensive craft, its usual defensive sturdiness and a heap of accumulated moxie.

When it finally finished its reached the top and looked around, and when its bench came scrambling off the sideline after its 85-77 win over a fantastic Texas Tech, Virginia had become the first first-time men’s college basketball national champion in 13 years, and it knew a feeling often associated with its conference neighbors such as Duke and North Carolina, the hares that always left it overshadowed.

As the unprecedented reality set in, noise cascaded through U.S. Bank Stadium from the droves in orange and blue, who seldom dared dream of such a thing. With seven seconds left and Braxton Key shooting two final free throws, the stars who forged this stood back beyond the half-court line, arms draped around each other.

They included De’Andre Hunter, whose two colossal three-point shots with 12.9 seconds left in regulation and 2:09 left in overtime both saved them and helped his points tabulate to a career-high 27 at his largest stage. They included Ty Jerome, whose drive and assist to Hunter with those 12.9 seconds left rescued Virginia from a late 68-65 deficit, as well as marking one of Jerome’s eight assists (to go with 16 points). And they included Kyle Guy, who initiated the hugs with the fresh memory of his 24 closing-night points.

They and their teammates had completed both a three-game closing run of games that could shorten life spans — following upon their theatrical escapes of Purdue and Auburn — and the fulfillment of a doozy of a 13-month story arc. That went from March 2018, when they somehow became the first No. 1 seed in tournament history to lose to a No. 16 seed, and did so with a bewildering 74-54 thud, to their passage through a Texas Tech team that had looked formidable in clearing out Buffalo, Michigan, Gonzaga and Michigan State.

“The credit goes to these young men,” said 10th-year Coach Tony Bennett, and they had steeled themselves after Texas Tech flew back from a 10-point deficit, recovered when the Red Raiders (31-7) pushed ahead, and recovered again in overtime after trailing 73-70 early on. They had made 45.8 percent of their shots against a defense beyond formidable, like a champion, they had made all 14 of their free throws in overtime.

They had spent much of the night leading.

Right out of the box across the first seven minutes and four seconds of the game, Texas Tech missed its first eight field goal attempts and Beard called timeout. At that point, his team trailed 9-3. It stood 0 for 4 from three-point range. It looked as if its players had just begun to play the biggest game of their lives, with the frayed nerves to match.

Soon, Virginia led 17-7, had hit 6 of 14 shots, had hit half of four three-point shots, had hogged 12 rebounds to the Red Raiders’ seven. It looked as if the Cavaliers, for all the shakiness and eluded thickets of their previous three rounds, might have themselves a night of freedom and joy.

A reminder: They were playing Texas Tech, the tournament’s most compelling team in ransacking to the final. With 9:37 left in the first half, and again at 8:42 and 8:24, the Red Raiders splashed down three-point shots. The first came right out of Beard’s timeout, when senior guard Brandone Francis rained in one from in front of the Virginia bench. The second came from freshman guard Kyler Edwards, who launched his from the top. The third came from Francis again, this time from halfway around from the top to the right.

When all the various electronic scoreboards got through tabulating all that, Texas Tech lurked close at 19-16.

It would lead 25-21 while its defense used its long arms and busy hands to practice its specialty of making an offense’s night less fun. Its energy ruled the court, and it looked like it might take command but, a reminder: It was playing Virginia, which had found its way through terrifying escapes.

The sturdy Cavaliers got Kihei Clark’s three-point shot from the left on a Guy drive and kick-out from the right, then Guy nailing a three-point shot from the left corner, then Hunter making an in-charge drive through the lane. That left the score at 29-29 for the last possession before halftime, Virginia’s symphony of ball movement that wound up with Hunter finding Jerome alone out front. When he drained his three-point shot at 0:02, the Cavaliers took a 32-29 lead to the locker room in an air promising suspense.

— Chuck Culpepper

In-game updates

Virginia, one year after a historic first-round loss, wins its first NCAA men’s basketball title with a 85-77 win over Texas Tech

After blowing a 10-point second-half lead, the Cavaliers defeated the Red Raiders in overtime to complete their remarkable turnaround from a year ago, when they became the first men’s team to lose to a No. 16 seed as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Tony Bennett, who was hired by Virginia in 2009 and coached the team in last year’s upset loss to Maryland Baltimore County, won his first national title as well.

DeAndre Hunter shook off an ineffective first half to lead Virginia with 27 points, and Kyle Guy, the hero of the Cavs’ semifinal win over Auburn, had 24. For the game, Virginia shot 45.8 percent (27-59) against a Texas Tech defense that led the nation in many metrics and stifled opponents throughout the tournament. The Red Raiders were led in scoring by reserve guard Brandone Francis’s 17 points, as he combined with fellow bench player Kyler Edwards for 29 of Texas Tech’s 77 points. The Red Raiders’ season-long leading scorers, Jarrett Culver, Davide Moretti and Matt Mooney, combined for 40 points on 14-of-41 shooting.

Cavs steady at the line

Virginia was pulling away from Texas Tech at the free throw line, with three player combining for six straight points to give the Cavs an 81-73 lead with 23 seconds left. However, Kyler Edwards hit a layup with 17 seconds left to give the Red Raiders some hope of a desperate comeback, and the team took its final timeout.

Virginia with slim lead

Virginia answered Texas Tech’s 5-0 run in overtime with one of its own, capped by De’Andre Hunter’s three-pointer. The teams then traded empty trips before the ball went out of bounds with 1:06 left, and the Cavs were given a critical possession after a video review, with officials determining that Tech’s Davide Moretti touched the ball last, if barely.

Overtime underway

This is the first NCAA tournament championship game to go to overtime since Kansas topped Memphis in 2008. Virginia drew first blood in the extra session, taking a two-point lead on a pair of De’Andre Hunter free throws, but Texas Tech’s Matt Mooney, who was largely ineffective in regulation, hit a three-pointer and jump shot to give his team a 73-70 lead.

We’re going to overtime!

After a Ty Jerome miss 22 seconds left, Texas Tech’s Norense Odiase was fouled when he grabbed the rebound. The 6-8 senior calmly made both free throws to give his team a three-point lead, but Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter hit a three-pointer with 13 seconds left. Hunter then rebounded a Jarrett Culver miss, but he lost control of the ball, which went out of bounds with 1 second left.

Culver’s shot with one second left was partially blocked by Virginia’s Braxton Key, keeping the score tied at 68-68. Overtime here we come.

Texas Tech takes first lead in second half

Jarrett Culver gave Texas Tech its first lead of the second half, at 66-65 with 0:35 left to play, with a layup. He is up to 15 points, albeit on 5-of-17 shooting.

One-point game, just over a minute to go

Oddsmakers gave the game an over/under of 120, which many thought was entirely too high for a matchup of suffocating defenses. But we’re well over that with just over a minute to go, as Virginia leads Texas Tech, 65-64. The teams have combined for some nifty passes and shot-making, particularly in a second half that hasn’t lacked for scoring, at least relative to expectations.

Virginia going cold late . . . again

Norense Odiase caught a short pass and was fouled on a layup with 3:28 left, giving him a chance to tie the game at 59 apiece as the game went to a timeout. In an echo of its semifinal win over Auburn, Virginia has let a 10-point, second-half lead slip away, with Texas Tech’s Matt Mooney shaking off a quiet game by hitting a contested three-point shot.

Odiase made the free throw for a 59-59 score and what shaped up as a dramatic finish.

That completed an 8-0 Red Raiders run, with the Cavs missing three shots and committing two turnovers. Virginia’s Mamadi Diakite ended the dry spell by making two free throws with 2:54 left, giving his team a two-point lead again, but Jarrett Culver used his own trip to the line to tie the game at 61-61.

Raiders not going away

Kyler Edwards made a jump shot with 5:32 left to cut Virginia’s lead to 59-53, and he became the fourth Texas Tech player to reach double digits in scoring. The Cavaliers have led throughout the second half, by as many as 10 points, with DeAndre Hunter improving upon a disappointing first-half showing.

Owens fouls out

Tariq Owens fouled out with 5:46 left, after coming close to tying up Virginia’s DeAndre Hunter on a jump ball. Instead, Hunter was able to muscle his way up for a layup after grabbing an offensive rebound under the Texas Tech basket, but he missed the ensuing free throw.

Time running out for Texas Tech

A Jarrett Culver basket was waved off on a charge call with just over eight minutes to play, negating for the moment Texas Tech’s bid to cut Virginia’s lead to six. Instead, the Cavs held a 55-47 edge, as they were shooting 46.5 percent from the field (20-43). That was coming against the Red Raiders’ No. 1-ranked field goal defense, which had held opponents to 36.8 percent shooting coming into the game.

Hunter heating up

Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter sandwiched two three-pointers around a Ty Jerome jumper to help their team regain a nine-point lead at 50-41 with 11:24 to play. Over half of Texas Tech’s points have been scored by two bench players, Brandone Francis and Kyler Edwards, who have gone a combined 7-of-10 from the field for 21 points. Hunter and teammate Kyle Guy lead all scorers with 15 points each.

Virginia opens up lead

Texas tech’s Jarrett Culver finally hit his first field goal, after an 0-for-8 start, on a layup with 15:28 to go in the game. He quickly followed it up with another layup, giving the Red Raiders hope that their top player was heating up just in time to lead a comeback. Holding a three-point lead at halftime, Virginia came out of the locker room with a 6-0 run to gain a 40-31 advantage, but Culver has helped cut the margin to 42-35 with 14:15 left. Still struggling to get untracked has been Matt Mooney, Texas Tech’s savior in its semifinal win over Michigan State, who has two points on 1-of-4 shooting.

Owens in foul trouble to start second half

Tariq Owens picked up his second and third fouls less than two minutes into the second half, and he was sent to the bench. The 6-10 senior came out of halftime looking stiff on his injured ankle, and he made an errant pass before committing the foul.

HALF: Virginia 32, Texas Tech 29

Ty Jerome hit a three-point shot just before the buzzer sounded to give Virginia the lead over Texas Tech at the half. The Cavs bounced back from a 25-21 deficit, after the Red Raiders recovered from starting the game down 17-7. Texas Tech got off to an extremely slow start of offense, including going 0 for 8 from the field, but the team caught fire, at least in relative terms, by scoring 14 points in a three-minute span. Virginia’s Kyle Guy led all scorers with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, with teammate Ty Jerome contributing eight points. For Texas Tech, Davide Moretti and Brandone Francis led the way with eight points each, but the team’s top player, Jarrett Culver, went 0 for 6 form the field and had just three points. Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter also struggled, scoring five points on 1 of 8 shooting.

No baskets for Culver, Hunter

While the game’s pace of scoring has increased, that hasn’t been the case for Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver and Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter. The game’s most high-profile players have each gone 0 for 5 from the field while making three free throws. The Red Raiders have two bench players, Brandone Francis and Kyler Edwards, largely to thank for the 25-24 lead the team has taken with four minutes to go in the first half, as they have combined for 11 points. Kyle Guy leads the Cavs with seven points.

Raiders back on top

The game has opened up to a considerable degree, much to the relief of viewers fearful that the two defense-minded teams would slog to a 39-38 final score. That might still happen, but the past few minutes of play have featured a number of made shots and speedier possessions, with the result a fairly palatable 25-21 lead for Texas Tech with over four minutes left in the first half.

We’ve got a game

Long range shots have started to fall for Texas Tech, which has made three three-point shots in as many possessions to trim a 17-7 Virginia lead to 19-16 with eight minutes left in the first half. The Red Raiders’ top reserve player, senior guard Brandone Francis, had two of those makes, and the other was provided by another bench player, Kyler Edwards.

Raiders get first field goal

Davide Moretti finally hit Texas Tech’s first field goal of the game, a three-pointer after seven minutes of game play that cut Virginia’s lead to 9-6. However, Kyle Guy quickly followed that with his own three to push the Cavs’ margin back up to 12-6. Guy, the late-game hero of his team’s remarkable comeback win over Auburn in a national semifinal game Saturday, has started this game 2 for 2 from the field for five points, plus two rebounds and a steal.

Guy finding a rhythm

Virginia went on a 7-0 run to take a 9-3 lead over Texas Tech, which called a timeout to stop the bleeding with just under 13 minutes left in the first half. The run was capped by a Braxton Key dunk which came on a runout following a missed dunk by the Red Raiders’ Jarrett Culver. Kyle Guy added a jump shot and Ty Jerome hit a three-pointer for Virginia, while Texas Tech has gone 0 for 8 from the field.

Defense rules early

To no one’s surprise, a game between arguably the two best defensive college teams in the country got off to a low-scoring start, with the score 3-2 in Texas Tech’s favor with just over four minutes gone by. The Red Raiders and the Cavaliers combined to go 1 for 9 from the field, with all of Tech’s points coming on free throws while Virginia’s Mamadi Diakite made the only jump shot. Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter, widely thought to the key to his team’s chances of winning, missed a relatively easy-looking layup opportunity after blowing by a defender and getting to the rim on the Cavs’ first possession. Tech star Jarrett Culver had all three of his team’s points in the early going.

From where?

More than a few fans online decided that Texas Tech was a lock to win after thinking they heard the Red Raiders’ Matt Mooney being introduced as from “Wakanda,” the fictional locale featured in the hit movie “Black Panther.” Mooney is actually from Wauconda, Illinois, a town that has taken note of how similar it sounds to Wakanda.

Owens will play but isn’t ‘100 percent’

CBS’s Tracy Wolfson reported before the game that while Texas Tech center Tariq Owens was “nowhere near 100 percent,” he would play against Virginia on an ankle he injured in the semifinal win over Michigan State. Wolfson added that Owens would be wearing shoes of two different sizes and for the first time all season had switched to a high-top model for more ankle support.

“Under normal circumstances he wouldn’t play tonight,” Red Raiders Coach Chris Bear said of Owens, whom he said had a high ankle sprain. “But this is the last Monday in college basketball, so he’s going to try.”

A graduate transfer from St. John’s, Owens has been an emotional leader for the Red Raiders, as well as a shot-blocking force who can step out for his own jumpers. It remains to be seen how much playing time the 6-10 player from Odenton, Md., gets against the Cavaliers, but his return to t

For Texas Tech, guards Davide Moretti, Jarrett Culver and Matt Mooney, along with big men Tariq Owens and Norense Odiase, have started 35 of 37 games as a group. They will again tonight in the championship game.

Watch the University of Virginia campus lose its mind

he court could provide an early lift.

How they got here

Virginia (34-3) started the season with 16 straight wins before the first of two losses against Duke. Its only other loss came to Florida State in the ACC tournament semifinals. The Cavaliers opened the NCAA tournament with double-digit wins over No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb and No. 9 seed Oklahoma. Then came three close calls: First a 53-49 win over 12th-seeded Oregon in a game that was tied with four minutes to play. Then an 80-75 overtime win over No. 3 seed Purdue, highlighted by Diakite’s game-tying shot in the final moments of regulation. And finally Saturday’s 63-62 win over Auburn, with the winning margin coming on three Kyle Guy free throws with less than a second remaining. That was Virginia’s 10th win against a ranked team this season, a school record.

The Red Raiders (31-6) won 15 of their first 16 games and finished atop the Big 12 standings. They lost to West Virginia in the conference tournament title game, but have looked dominant since. Texas Tech cruised through its NCAA tournament schedule — a 72-57 win over No. 14 seed Northern Kentucky, a 78-58 triumph over No. 6 seed Buffalo and a 63-44 victory over No. 2 seed Michigan — before toppling No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the West Region final to reach its first Final Four in school history. The Red Raiders used a big run early in Saturday night’s second half to pull away from East Region winner Michigan State in a 61-51 win.

— Des Bieler

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