Led by De'Andre Hunter and his NBA-ready game, the Virginia Cavaliers turned themselves into national champions Monday night, holding off tenacious, ferocious Texas Tech for an 85-77 overtime win - a scintillating victory that came 388 days after a crushing setback that might have sunk a lesser team for years.
A season after becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 - the one thing that had never happened in a tournament where anything can - the Cavaliers watched a 10-point lead turn into a 3-point deficit before Hunter came to the rescue. The sophomore made the game-tying 3 with 12 seconds left in regulation, then made another with just over two minutes left in the extra period to give the Cavs the lead for good.
After going without a field goal for the first 18 1/2 minutes, Hunter finished with a career-high 27 points.
Hunter's key 3 in OT gave Virginia a 75-73 lead, and after the teams traded possessions, Tech guard Davide Moretti scrambled after a loose ball heading onto Virginia's end of the court. It appeared it would be Texas Tech ball, but a replay showed Moretti's pinkie finger had barely scraped the ball. Virginia got possession, and worked the ball into Ty Jerome, who got fouled and made two free throws.
Brandone Francis missed a 3 on the other end, and Virginia pulled away - the first time this game felt remotely comfortable, even after Guy made a 3 to give the Cavs a 10-point lead with 10:22 left in regulation.
The Cavs went 12 for 12 from the line in overtime to ice this game. They scored the game's final 11 points.
Jarrett Culver, also lottery-pick material, made a spinning left-handed layup over Hunter with 35 seconds left in regulation to put the Red Raiders ahead 66-65. After Jerome missed a teardrop on the other end, Norense Odiase got fouled and made two free throws to make it 68-65.
The nation's best defense couldn't afford to give up a 3, but Jerome skipped a pass to Hunter, who was open on the wing - and spotted up and drained it. Culver missed a 3 with Guy in his face with a second left, and we were headed to overtime, the first extra session in the final since Kansas beat Memphis in 2008.