John GasawayESPN InsiderClose
- ESPN Insider college basketball contributor
- He began covering the hoops of the university in 2004.
- He has written for Basketball Prospectus and the Wall Street Journal.
A year after suffering the most shocking loss in the history of the NCAA tournament, Virginia will play for a national title. Here is how the Cavaliers did the work and what comes next.
The Cavaliers have achieved the end of consecutive miracles:
First it was Mamadi Diakite's shot at the end of the regulation against Purdue, in a contest in which the Hoos won in overtime. But even the victory over the Boilermakers could take a place in Virginia's history of what happened against Auburn.
The team of Tony Bennett fell by four points with 17 seconds to play, and still remained two ahead with 1.5 seconds to play. That's when Ty Jerome put the ball to Kyle Guy in the left corner, who was fouled by Samir Doughty in the act of throwing a 3 with 0.6 seconds left in the game.
Guy made three free throws, Auburn's attempt for a miracle on the court fell short and the rest is history. Virginia won 63-62, and the Cavaliers will play for the title.
The controversy was everywhere in the last five seconds.
It was not just the call against Doughty. With approximately 2.8 seconds remaining on the clock, Jerome was taking the ball quickly to the ground while his team lost 62-60. The young man tried a dodge behind his back, when the ball hit the back of his right foot.
When Jerome retrieved the ball after it bounced away from him, he picked it up instead of continuing with his dribble. The work should have been called double dribble.
In a game that will be remembered by Guy hitting three extremely important free throws, were two of his teammates who put the Cavaliers in position to achieve another unlikely final.
Jerome led all the scorers with 21 points and was 4 out of 9 in his 3s. Hunter came out strong after halftime. In the second half, he scored 10 of his 14 points in the last game in Virginia that came with less than 60 possessions (59) and reached the limit.
Auburn mounted an incredible comeback
The game actually seemed to have ended effectively when Virginia led 57-47 with 5:22 remaining, but the Tigers defended themselves thanks to three triples in the final stretch of Bryce Brown. The senior finished the game with 12 points, but his heroic in the final minutes was almost enough for the Bruce Pearl team to take the victory.
In particular, Brown and his teammates excelled at taking care of the ball and maximizing the amount of opportunities they had to score. No Auburn player recorded more than two offensive boards, but as a team, the Tigers knocked down nine offensive rebounds. It was almost enough.
Virginia will need better shots on the line and more second chances on Monday night
Before Guy was 3-of-3 on the line in the last second of the game, Virginia had only managed 3-for-9 on their free throws. If it were not for the miraculous end, the missed opportunities on the line would be the last memory of this team.
Speaking of surprises, the Cavaliers rebounded only 17 percent of their lost shots. On a night when Bennett's team was recording their best shot of the tournament from the Gardner-Webb game, the lack of scoring opportunities almost cost them their season. Virginia will want to do better in the offensive glbad on Monday night.