Cavaliers a win away from first NCAA title

MINNEAPOLIS (CBS19 SPORTS) -- As fans were filing out of US Bank Stadium following Saturday night's Final Four games, one stopped to ask a friend, "How many lives does Virginia have left?"

At this point, the Cavaliers only need one more.

UVA will play for the school's first-ever national championship in men's basketball Monday night in Minneapolis. The Wahoos and Texas Tech are both in the title game for the first time in program history.

“To be in it is surreal," UVA guard De'Andre Hunter told reporters on Sunday. "It’s something I’ve been watching, and something I dreamed of as a kid. And it was one of our goals as a team, to get here, and we’re here now and we just have one more game to go.”

“I probably won’t be able to go to sleep tonight. Probably just watching a lot of Game of Thrones, just trying to get away from everything," said UVA forward Braxton Key. "This is everything we worked for growing up as a kid, and to finally be here and be on this stage is special.”

The Wahoos reached the title game for the first time with back-to-back all-time great NCAA Tournament finishes. Mamadi Diakite's buzzer-beater forced overtime against Purdue in last weekend's Elite Eight. Kyle Guy had the encore on Saturday, hitting three free throws with less than a second left on the clock to give the Cavaliers a 63-62 win against Auburn in the Elite Eight.

Refocusing after such an emotional win would not be a problem for the Wahoos, Guy said on Sunday.

“I think it’s very easy with what’s at stake," Guy said. "A chance to bring home a title, cut down a net. For the program, for the community, for our own wise. We enjoyed last night last night, and today we’re focused on what’s at hand.”

The game will be a matchup of two of the top defensive teams in the country this season. UVA has given up 55.5 points per game this season, the lowest average in the country. The Red Raiders rank third nationally, giving up just 58.8 points per game. KenPom.com has Texas Tech at No. 1 and the Wahoos at No. 5 in its defensive efficiency rankings.

The site also ranks UVA No. 1 and Texas Tech fifth in overall efficiency.

“We know how good Texas Tech is," said UVA guard Ty Jerome. "It’s going to be a dogfight, and it’s on the biggest stage in college basketball. And I can’t imagine a better spot to be in. It’s going to be hopefully a great game. Highly competitive, highly physical. And that’s what you want.”

While on the podium during Sunday's media session, Guy and Jerome were both asked if they've visualized cutting down the nets after a win on Monday. Both players tried to keep the focus on Texas Tech, who finished the game on a 9-0 run to beat Michigan State 61-51 in Saturday's second Final Four game.

“Coach always says the joy is in the competition. So we’re most excited just to get out there and compete," Jerome said. "And we would love to cut down the nets, and I’ll probably be speechless if we’re able to do it. I’m sure it will mean the world to me. It’s what every kid works so hard for. It’s what we’ve put in all the work for.”

“Both teams have probably envisioned it. Every player and coach on every team has envisioned it, I’m sure," said Guy. "But I think it’s important to realize that you don’t get to skip the game and just go down and cut the nets. We’re in for a battle and we’re excited.”



 
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