Kyle Guy

USA Today

Virginia vs. Texas Tech

These two teams are damn good.

April 08, 2019 - 9:24 am

Tonight. 6:20pm Pacific. 9:20pm Eastern. CBS. The national title game. Virginia and Texas Tech. Let me repeat that last part: TEXAS TECH IS IN THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. In basketball. The Red Raiders going to the national title game in football would be incredible, going to it in basketball is unreal.

And no, Virginia-Texas Tech is not the Duke-UNC rematch that everyone was hoping for. And yes, these two may ugly it up some. Just know that going in. And know this. These two teams are damn good.

This is a matchup that was impossible to imagine just a few months ago and now it’s a few hours away. And it is absolutely incredible. Virginia, the team that made the worst kind of history last year could make the best kind of history tonight. Texas Tech, a school without much basketball history at all, has practically made history every time they’ve stepped on the court this year, and they have a chance to do it again. 

Tony Bennett handled the worst loss in the best way possible. They came into this year with the mantra of “run to the roar.” In other words, don’t ignore what happened against UMBC, embrace it. And now he’s got his team playing for the national title. 

And then there’s Chris Beard. All he does is win. He shows up and wins. Freaking everywhere he’s ever been. In places where it’s not easy to win, much less win big.   Little Rock. Texas Tech. Give him a greaseboard and a chance to recruit and he will give you a team that wins. Again, Texas Tech is in the national title game. In basketball. That’s a freaking joke. 

And they didn’t fluke their way into this either. Look at the last four coaches he beat: Tom Izzo, Mark Few, John Beilein, and Nate Oats. One Hall of Famer, two future Hall of Famers, and the guy who was just hired at Alabama. 

Now, about those games on Saturday night. Were they any good? I’ll answer that: they sure as hell were. Let’s start with the second one and work backwards. Because the second game was vintage Chris Beard Texas Tech. The Red Raiders absolutely took it to Michigan State. As Tom Izzo: “We prided ourselves on being the toughest team, and tonight we weren’t.”

Chris Beard’s crew locks you up. Even when you’re expecting it, they still make it 40 minutes of living hell. But don’t get too focused on that defense and forget about the offense, they can score now. And they did exactly when they needed to, late in the game against Michigan State, to put it away. Tech made it look like they’d been there before, even though they’d never been there before. And they made it look a lot easier than it was. 

Speaking of easy, there was nothing easy about Auburn-Virginia. That was pure insanity. 

Auburn-Virginia was insane. Now, let me get three things out quickly. 

Yes it was a foul. 

Yes it was a double-dribble. 

And yes, it really, really sucks for Auburn. 

But before we get into the final seconds, go back a little earlier. To Kyle Guy getting the ball with nine seconds left, down four. And doing this.

For all the attention on Guy’s free throws and the double-dribble, don’t sleep on that three. Because that was absurd. 

Miss that and the game is over. But it wasn’t. 

Get used to hearing that phrase because you’re about to hear it a lot. Guy drained it to make it 61-60 Auburn. The Tigers hit one of two foul shots and then Ty Jerome was bringing the ball up the court for Virginia.

The foul was called. But yes, as everyone realized later, there was a double-dribble before the foul. The ball went off Jerome’s foot, he grabbed it with both hands, and then continued dribbling again. But the ref never saw it. Hell, almost nobody saw that. Shout out to my man Gene Steratore for breaking that whole thing down. 

The ref was so locked in on looking for an Auburn foul because they had one to give, that the double-dribble was completely missed.  

And yes, Auburn fans, if that double-dribble is called, the game is over. But it wasn’t. 

And it’s about to get worse. Roll it. 

It’s over. Auburn wins. They’re going to the national championship game. Err, ‘scuse me, my bad. 

Because off the in-bounds, the ball went to Guy for three and he missed. So the game was over. But it wasn’t. 

Because he was fouled in the act of shooting. And yes, it was a foul. And no, I’m not interested in hearing that the refs should swallow the whistle there. If it’s a foul in the first minute, it’s a foul in the 39th minute. 

That said, if they didn’t call it, I wouldn’t have been surprised, but they called it and it was a foul. Samir Doughty left his feet in one location and landed in another, making contact along the way. As Steratore called it, that’s an A to B jump and that’s a foul. 

And Kyle Guy went to the line for three foul shots with 0.6 seconds left. He needed two for the tie and three for the lead. Two to keep the season alive, three to put them in the national title game.

Those first two free throws were clutch as hell. Kyle Guy is clutch as hell. He doesn’t have ice water in his veins, he just has giant ice cubes traveling through those veins, because there was no hesitation, no indication of pressure in that moment. And then after a timeout, here comes the third, and he hit it.

That’s the one to give Virginia the 63-62 lead. Auburn tried a desperation shot that didn’t go and Virginia advanced with one of the most clutch final ten seconds you’ll ever see. And the only thing cooler than Guy at the foul line was Guy telling the truth in his postgame interview about how nervous he was.

In the eyes of some, UVA went from the most boring team ever to the most exciting team ever. And they were never the most boring team ever.

But that is the most brutal loss ever for Auburn. They battled their asses off to get to that game, to have the lead late in that game, and then it fell apart in the worst way. 

There are so many what ifs and what might have beens. If Guy doesn’t hit that ridiculous three with under 10 to go, Auburn wins. 

If Ty Jerome is called for a double-dribble, Auburn wins. 

If they make the second foul shot with seven seconds left, Virginia can only tie. 

If they don’t have an extra foul to give, the ref might even see that double-dribble. 

If they don’t foul Guy in the corner, Auburn wins. 

And if Kyle Guy isn’t the clutchest guy on the planet, Auburn wins. 

If they hit more than 29% from three, Auburn wins. 

In other words, Auburn got complete jobbed on the missed double-dribble, but that’s not the reason they lost the game. They deserved to win. They ran a winning race, they ran their eye balls out. They just didn’t win the race. And it sucks. It truly sucks. Because it took all of that for Virginia to win. And now they face Texas Tech. 

Tonight. 6:20pm Pacific. 9:20pm Eastern. CBS. The national title game. Virginia and Texas Tech. Let’s do this.