MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Now that, Virginia, is the way to close out a season.
Led by De’Andre Hunter and his NBA-ready game, the 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.
But Virginia was better than that.
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 12.1 seconds left in regulation, then made another 3 with 2:07 left in the extra period to give the Cavs the lead for good.
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After going scoreless for the first 18 1/2 minutes, Hunter finished with a career-high 27 points, and if he leaves as a lottery pick — well, what a way to go out.
He helped the Cavs bring home the first NCAA title for a program with a colorful, star-crossed and, now, very winning history.