Virginia And Texas Tech Move To Unlikely Final
Justin Ekstrom | Apr 6, 2019 AT 11:01 pm
(KNSI) - The NCAA Tournament field is now down to two teams after Virginia and Texas Tech win once again with their tough defensive play.
During the first game, Virginia's defense dominated the same way they have all tournament, but it's a call at the end of the game that most will be talking about for many years.
Virginia's defense started right where they have been all season by not allowing Auburn to even get a shot off in their first possession.
Auburn finally broke-through to score with just over 17 minutes to play in the first half of a slow-starting defensive battle.
Shortly thereafter, Kyle Guy and Bryce Brown exchanged three-point-shots to the delight of the US Bank crowd begging for some offense.
Austin Wiley worked Auburn to a three-point-lead but the Tigers were unable to stretch their lead after two scoreless trips of their own.
Virginia's defense stifled Auburn's offense for nearly three minutes until they connected on an electric slam to bring them within one.
With 5:40 remaining in the first half, Auburn tied the game at 22-apiece and took the lead by hitting two in-a-row from three-point-land to end the half.
Guy Jerome ended the first half with 13 points for Virginia but it was Auburn that held a 31-28 heading to the second half due to receiving 13 points from their bench.
Virginia came out strong in the second half by scoring the first eight points to regain the lead at 36-31.
Unforced errors and poor three-point-shooting held Auburn scoreless for nearly the first six minutes of play in the second half but back-to-back buckets tied the score at 36.
Virginia took a six-point-lead with just over 10 minutes to play but another timely three brought Auburn within two.
Down seven points with the game ticking away, Auburn coach Bruce Pearl was absolutely livid after another missed three-pointer from his back court.
With 5:14 remaining in the game, Jerome gave the Cavaliers a 10-point-lead but then committed his fourth foul, prompting head coach Tony Bennett to pull him from the court.
Mamadi Diakite missed two free-throws that would have put his team ahead by five but Auburn took control by hitting back-to-back three-pointers to give them the two-point lead with 20.9 seconds remaining.
Anfernee McLemore then hit two free throws to give Auburn a four-point-lead but Kyle Guy hit a big three to give the Cavaliers hope.
A missed free throw by Harper gave Virginia the ball with 1.5 seconds left and a questionable foul call gave Guy three free-throws with a chance to send Virginia to the championship.
Guy did just that and the Auburn fans erupted with nothing but contempt-filled-boos for the officials and the final score of 63-62.
Afterwards, Guy spoke about how that very opportunity is what he envisioned his whole life.
"Yeah, those are moment that every basketball player has dreamed of, hitting the game-winning shot or free throws or whatever."
Jerome was the leading scorer with 21 points; he also added nine rebounds and six assists for Virginia.
Although unlikely to live up to the ending of the first game, a second game had to be played.between Michigan State and Texas Tech.
Michigan State and Texas Tech started their game much like their predecessors with slow-pace and gritty defense.
The Spartans started out strong behind Cassius Winston's ability to draw defenders in and kick the ball out for his teammates to hit three-pointers.
Tech's swarming defense, coupled with three-pointers, put the Spartans on their heels and in a 19-16 early hole.
Although the Spartans continually missed shots, the Red Raiders could not take control of the game and only held a 23-21 lead heading into the second half.
In the second half, the Red Raiders stretched their lead to 28-23 after using much of the clock on back-to-back possessions and sinking tightly contested shots.
With just under 16-minutes to play, Aaron Henry sunk two free throws to bring the Spartans within two points but Texas Tech added two more to their lead on the next possession.
Texas Tech extended their lead to 12 with a crowd-roaring three-pointer from former University of South Dakota guard, Matt Mooney.
Texas Tech took control of the game with methodical defense and clutch shooting but Michigan State hung around with timely shooting of their own.
Mooney continued to hit shots for Texas Tech but Winston kept the Spartans in the game with clutch free throws and stellar defense.
A rare miss from the charity stripe by the Spartans kept the Texas Tech lead at five with just under four-minutes to play.
With the lead dwindling down to one, Texas Tech made a big bucket and called a timeout to talk things over.
After the timeout, the Red Raiders came out on fire and stretched the lead to seven with less than 55.0 seconds to play.
Norense Odiase hit two free throws to stretch the Texas Tech lead to 60-51 with 27.2 seconds remaining and there was nothing more that could be done by the Spartans.
The final buzzer sounded with Texas Tech defeating Michigan State 61-51; Mooney lead all scorers with 22 points including four three-pointers.
After a final missed shot from the Spartans, Texas Tech ran out the clock and will now face the Cavaliers in the Championship on Monday, April 8th.