COLUMN: Be it luck or divine intervention, 'Cardiac Cavs' appear destined for this moment

By  | 

MINNEAPOLIS (WDBJ) -- When Kyle Guy's corner 3-point attempt clanked off the near edge of the rim as the game clock expired, time seemed to stand still.

It's hard to believe any of the 72,711 spectators packed into Minneapolis' U.S. Bank Stadium heard James Breeding's whistle calling a foul against Auburn's Samir Doughty.

But as the hearts of the Cavalier-faithful, for a split second, sank into oblivion, a gathering at the scorer's table revealed the night's first Final Four contest was not over just yet.

Guy smoothly hit his first two shots, as the 'War Eagle' side of the stadium showered the elevated court with jeers of disapproval.

Defeat had been snatched from the hands of victory.

While the call might have seemed controversial, if only because of its timing and effect on the game's outcome, the NCAA stood by it.

"The defender may not ‘belly up’ or use the lower part of the body or arms to cause contact outside his vertical plane or inside the opponent’s vertical plane," NCAA coordinator of officiating J.D. Collins told a pool reporter after the game.

After an Auburn timeout, Guy returned to the line, hit his third and Virginia escaped with a 63-62 win, making all who watched wonder just how the Cavaliers were able to do it again.

"I heard him call it right away," Guy said after the game. "They were asking me did I know, because I put my face into my jersey, but that was me focusing. I knew they called a foul. I knew that I got behind the line for three shots because I practiced that. I just literally told myself that we dream of these moments, and to be able to make one happen was special."

Just a week before, UVA overcame a 3-point deficit with 16 seconds left when a Mamadi Diakite floater sent the Elite Eight game against Purdue to overtime.

The Cavaliers won that contest in the extra period despite a record-breaking performance by the Boilermakers' Carsen Edwards.

"I don't really have the words for how I feel," Guy said. "I really don't. I've been pinching myself the whole time I've been in Minneapolis because it doesn't really feel real, but I'm just so happy right now."

Guy's free throw efforts on Saturday overshadowed a masterful performance by Ty Jerome, who scored a game-high 21 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 6 assists.

His fourth personal foul with 4:32 remaining, though, sent Jerome to the bench, opening the door for Auburn's comeback.

"I said, 'Why did you do that?' Head Coach Tony Bennett said. "Yeah, we needed him on the floor, and I was going to put him in once we got into the media timeout, but I thought, if we could get him at the three-minute or under three, we'd put him back."

Virginia's total margin of victory in the NCAA Tournament is 37, but since the Sweet 16, the Cavaliers have won their games by only a combined 10 points.

Some may call it luck. Some may say it's a fluke. But whatever it is, Virginia is now one win away from etching its name into basketball immortality.

Cardiac Cavs, indeed.