After the first 5-7 minutes of the title game last night, boy was there a show put on by both Texas Tech and Virginia.
The beginning, especially for Tech, was very ugly. They just could not put the ball in the hoop. Virginia did not really capitalize on that either. Sure, they pushed the lead to the 10 early, with the score 17-7, and then it became a good to great game. After Virginia got the double digit lead, a bench guy for Tech hit three threes and a jumper to tie the game. Then Virginia went on a run to push the lead to 4 or 5. Then Tech would come back.
For a game that I fully thought would be in the 50's, this game turned out to be beautifully both on offense and defense. Yes, both teams went over 70, and Virginia over 80, but there was some tremendous defense, rebounding and all around good defense being played. These players were making tough shots to be honest. I mean, how can I not start with Deandre Hunter. He was my pick for MOP for this tournament, and while he didn't have the best of games, he saved it all for last night, especially in the second half. He hit monster shot after monster shot. His elbow jumper was unstoppable. He made 2 of the biggest threes that I have ever witnessed in a college game. And he did it in the title game. He played best when he needed to play best. And man was he amazing on defense. He locked down another potential lottery pick in Jarret Culver. He was all over him all night. He made his life miserable for 40 minutes. It was a sight to behold. I told a buddy of mine that he played like Kawhi in college, except he has a much better jumper at that time in their lives. He was incredible. So was Kyle Guy. He hit some big threes. He made some good baseline jumpers. And he hit major free throws, which he is now expected to do. Ty Jerome ran that offense like a machine. The three he hit at the end of the first half was enormous. He also created tons of open shots for his teammates. He also covered Tech's big shooters, and limited them better than anyone else has all tournament. And Mamadi Diakite was snatching offensive and defensive rebounds all night, and played tremendous help d in the post. He was so awesome all tournament.
That's not to say that Tech didn't show up. Culver struggled, Hunter shut him down, but he still found a way to get double figures. The Italian dude has such a pure shot, and he was automatic from the line. The other guard, Mooney I think his name is, hit some critical threes even after struggling from the floor for about 30 minutes of play. Odiase was Tech's version of Diakite. He played great D on Hunter, swatting a critical shot, and he was grabbing boards. And grad transfer Tariq Owens, on a very hurt ankle, played his heart out until he fouled out.
This was a really good title game. I mean, it went to overtime, it had drama and it is a great, great story after what happened to Virginia last year. I know there wasn't a "hot" team, like Duke or Kentucky, but we still had very good teams, with lottery picks and great head coaches last night. Anyone that decided not to watch because there was no "sexy" team, I feel sorry for you. This was one of the better title games I watched. I was super impressed with both teams. The refs didn't do anything too outlandish. And I think the better team won.
This was a solid way to end a very fun season of college basketball. Congrats Virginia. A title well earned.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet.
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