Scott German: UVA wins in the place where the bad thing happened

bear creek 2019 ACC TournamentVirginia won’t ever be able to completely wash away all the pain, all the suffering, all the nightmares, from the 2018 NCAA Tournament debacle when that team whose initials we won’t mention again made history here at the Spectrum Center.

But, alas, that was yesterday. OK maybe about 365 yesterdays. But this was today: a new postseason, an opportunity to move forward for this edition of Virginia Cavalier basketball.

And that they did. After trailing 29-27 at intermission to North Carolina State, the Cavaliers officially announced to the college basketball world that 2018 postseason is history, ancient history.

While Kyle Guy will get a huge amount of press for his 29-point effort, which included going 7-of-9 from three-point range, it was soft-spoken big man, 6-10 senior Jack Salt, that got things turned around for Virginia.

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Averaging 3.6 points a game and shooting 45.9 percent from the charity stripe, and going completely scoreless in his last six outings, Salt had a pair of thee-point plays in the first five minutes of the second half and finished with another late in the game.

Final stat line: 18 points, a career high.

Virginia, with the arena gradually turning State’s way, stayed the course, and State didn’t. Game over.

Unlike the bad thing that happened here nearly a year ago, in which at times the Cavaliers had the deer in the headlights look, today it felt different -because it was different.

No standing around looking for someone to step up and take control when things began to go sideways for UVA.

Today on the same floor where the bad thing happened, Kyle Guy, Jack Salt stood up and said no, not today.

Confidence is contagious.

Column by Scott German

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
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