Turns out those three free throws Virginia junior guard Kyle Guy hit to defeat Auburn at the end of Saturday’s Final Four semifinal game were only the prelude.
On Monday, the Cavaliers won their first national championship 85-77 over Texas Tech in overtime by going 12-for-12 from the free-throw line in those five extra minutes that decided everything.
Guy’s trio of free throws Saturday to send his team to the title game will go down among the most famous in NCAA tournament history. They also started a run of efficiency at the free throw line that propelled the Cavaliers to the title.
Starting with Guy’s last three on Saturday night and continuing through Monday’s game, the Cavaliers made 23 of their final 26 free throws in the tournament. They went 20-of-23 Monday, including their perfect dozen in overtime.
They scored all but five of their 17 points in overtime from the free-throw line. Guy, named the NCAA tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, went 4-for-4 in OT, with De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome, Mamadi Diakite and Braxton Key each making a pair of attempts.
“We just do the little things,” Guy said. “This isn’t time for ‘My bad’ or ‘I got you next time.’ It’s just [making] minimal mistakes.”
Virginia coach Tony Bennett credited three times this season when his team played Saturday and Monday games with only one day off between for the mental and physical fitness it showed beating Texas Tech.
“They knew what to expect,” Bennett said. “I said: ‘You’re built for this. You prepared for this because this is what we did.”
Owens bucks injury
Texas Tech starting big man Tariq Owens was back starting and leaping despite playing on what Red Raiders coach Chris Beard called a high ankle sprain that would have kept him out of any regular-season game.
Owens played 22 minutes, but only five after halftime, as he fouled out with 5 minutes, 46 remaining in regulation. He finished with three points, five rebounds and a blocked shot.
Pride and a promise
Texas Tech ended its season 31-7 after winning 14 of its previous 15 games before losing to the top-seeded Cavaliers.
“I’ve never been more proud of a team I’ve coached,” Beard said. What they accomplished — Big 12 championship, Final Four, in the championship game — I’ve never been more proud. There’s a lot of emotion in our locker room right now and it’s real … This is life. We’ll bounce back. We’ll be back in this tournament sooner or later.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, former Vikings coach Bud Grant, former Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau and NFL MVP/former Texas Tech star Patrick Mahomes all attended Monday’s game. As he did Saturday, Mahomes flexed for the camera in the first half.
Former Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree also was in the crowd.
Thibodeau sat courtside, looking happy and relaxed. The Wolves fired him and paid him to leave in January. He has been to New England to visit family, spent time in Chicago and did three weeks of commentary work for ESPN. He’ll probably will do more in the NBA playoffs.
He had to have liked the defense being played in Monday’s title game, right?
“It’s such a different game,” he said.
A simple twist of fate
Two-time Final Four Most Outstanding Player and noted Deadhead Bill Walton got his photo taken at downtown Minneapolis’ Bob Dylan mural and visited Nicollet Island and the flowing Mississippi River before Monday’s game.
In town all weekend for personal appearance and Westwood One radio work, he calls Minnesotans Dylan and Kevin McHale good friends and noted both come from Hibbing.
• Guy was joined on the all-tournament team by Cavaliers teammates Hunter and Jerome as well as the Red Raiders’ Jarrett Culver and Matt Mooney.
• Announced attendance for the championship game was 72,062. Combined with Saturday’s figure of 72,711, the two sessions at U.S. Bank Stadium drew 144,773 people.
• Virginia great Ralph Sampson, the 1983 NBA draft’s top pick, fired up his school’s faithful on the big video boards from one of the Cavaliers’ cheering sections midway through the second half.