Kyle Guy three, late free throws send Virginia to stunning Final Four win
Kyle Guy made three free throws with six-tenths of a second left, lifting Virginia to an improbable 63-62 win over Auburn Saturday in the Final Four, and sending the ‘Hoos to their first national championship game in program history.
Guy was fouled at the end of a wild sequence following a 14-0 Auburn run over a 5:05 stretch that erased a 10-point Virginia lead and put the Tigers up four, 61-57, with 17 seconds left.
Guy hit a three with seven seconds left to get the margin back to one, and then Jared Harper made the first of two free throws after being fouled to make it 62-60 Auburn.
The Tigers (30-10) had fouls to give, eating up clock as Virginia worked to get a potential game-tying shot off.
It came down to an inbounds play with 1.5 seconds left. Guy got the ball on the entry pass and elevated for a three from the left corner.
The shot bounded off, but Samir Doughty was called for a foul for crowding out Guy on the follow-through.
Guy sank the first two free throws before Auburn coach Bruce Pearl called timeout.
Then Guy made the final to put Virginia ahead. Auburn did not get a final shot off.
“These are moments that every basketball player has dreamed of, hitting the game-winning shot or free throws or whatever,” said Guy, who finished with 15 points, the biggest six of his life coming in the final seven seconds.
Guy admitted to some nerves as he stepped to the line, after game officials went to the replay monitor to determine how much time was left on his shot and foul.
“Kind of had that feeling in your stomach, like a good nervousness, like, all right, this is my chance. To be able to go to the National Championship off of that for these guys and Coach Bennett, I mean, I really don’t have the words,” Guy said.
Pearl took the high road after a call that incensed the sizable contingent of Auburn fans in U.S. Bank Stadium.
“(We’re) focused on how we were going to handle the defeat at Auburn, with class and dignity,” Pearl said. “There are lots of calls during the game, and you’re going to get some, and some you’re not going to get.
“My advice, as an administrator of the game, is if that’s a foul, call it. Call it at the beginning of the game, call it in the middle of the game, call it at the end of the game. Don’t call it any more or less at any other time during the game. That was the call.
“But it won’t – it can’t define – don’t let it define the game because then you’re taking away from Ty Jerome or you’re taking away from Anfernee McLemore with 12 rebounds, or Bryce Brown almost leading Auburn back to an incredible come-from-behind victory. I’d love that to be the story,” Pearl said.
Auburn led 31-28 at halftime, but Virginia (34-3) held the Tigers scoreless for the first 5:46 of the second half, and led by as many as 10, on a 7-0 run punctuated by a Jerome three with 5:22 to go.
But Jerome picked up his fourth foul, a frustration foul in the backcourt after a no-call on a short jumper, and subbed out at the 4:32 mark.
Auburn took advantage, holding Virginia scoreless until the Guy three with seven seconds left, having seemingly salted the game away before the jumper gave the ‘Hoos one last bit of heartbeat.
“That three Kyle hit was off a play that Coach put in. Everyone did their job screening, and Kyle hit a super tough shot,” said Jerome, whose game of the night – 21 points, nine rebounds, six assists – got lost in Guy’s late-game heroics.
“The same on the side out of bounds plays. It’s a play we put in and practiced it multiple times. It wasn’t just luck. We worked on that situation a lot,” Jerome said.
“Yeah, we definitely take pride in trying to overprepare,” Guy said. “We have a poster in our practice gym, in our weight room that says, Success Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity. We did a great job staying disciplined during those last ten seconds and making something happen.”
De’Andre Hunter had 14 points for Virginia, 10 coming in the second half, on 5-of-5 shooting from the floor, as it seemed that UVA coach Tony Bennett made a concerted effort to get Hunter involved in the offense after a quiet first half.
“De’Andre really did the things we needed. Got us different kinds of baskets, you know, whether he could drive, got a couple of offensive rebounds, and really a very strong second half for sure,” Bennett said.
Kihei Clark had nine points and three assists in 36 minutes.
Mamadi Diakite, who had averaged 13.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in the South Regional, had just two points on 1-of-4 shooting, but pulled down six rebounds and blocked six Auburn shots, helping turn around what had been effective play in the paint that had seen the Tigers shoot 9-of-14 on shots in the painted area in the first half.
Auburn was just 2-of-7 shooting in the paint in the second half.
The Tigers, a 37.9 percent three-point-shooting team this season, shot just 29.0 percent (9-of-31) from three against Virginia.
“This will be a memorable game, and I’d like it to be remembered for a great game,” Pearl said. “Let’s not remember this game because of just how it ended. Let’s remember two teams that played really hard, that only had 13 turnovers combined, didn’t shoot it very well because there was great defense. It had nothing to do with the sight lines or the rims. We missed a lot of threes. We missed some open shots, but we played against a great defense. It was a great college basketball game.”
And now, Virginia is one game away from writing perhaps the greatest redemption story in sports history. A year removed from a first-round loss to #16 seed UMBC, marking the first time a #1 seed had lost to a #16 in NCAA Tournament history, Virginia will play Monday night for a national championship.
“I feel like I get asked this question every single round, every round we advance, and every round I say the same thing almost, and it feels a little bit sweeter, a little bit sweeter,” Jerome said. “But to think this time last year we were starting our spring workouts, and to still be playing at this point in the season with, after tonight, one other team in the whole country on the stage that you dreamed about since you were a little kid, it’s an unreal feeling. We’re going to do everything we can to finish the job.”
Story by Chris Graham
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