Virginia, Texas Tech prep for one last game for NCAA title

Texas Tech guard Matt Mooney reacts to fans after a semifinal round game against Michigan State in the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament Saturday

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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.

No matter the number of shots made, the trophy will be lifted and the confetti will be dropped either way at U.S. Bank Stadium, where 72,711 fans packed the 3-year-old football facility for the semifinal games. It's also the culmination of a redemption tour that began last March 16, when the No. 1-seeded Cavaliers were on the wrong side of history: a 74-54 loss to No. 16 seed UMBC.

"He told us we had enough to play in the final, and maybe coach is psychic", Mooney said. "I'll put on my big-boy trousers and say, 'Yeah, I've been here eight times and won one, '" Izzo said, "but I'll keep knocking on the door". "We're a good team".

"It's a great story".

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.

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"Coach Izzo is just class", Beard said. "But that's where we started this whole thing, was just trying to have the expectations and the vision". "It's going to mark something", Bennett said. He made one free throw on the next trip down, then Norense Odiase swiped the ball from MSU's Xavier Tillman - one of Tech's four steals on the night - and the Red Raiders worked the ball to Culver, who made his only 3 to push the lead to 58-51 and start the celebration. "But I'm just so happy right now, so proud of - (Jerome) played freakin' phenomenal". So after surviving a low-scoring semifinal on Saturday, here come the Cavaliers and the Red Raiders for another clash of the paint packers, ball hawkers and board crashers.

With the kind of "D" Texas Tech plays, it was too much to overcome, and now the Red Raiders and are getting ready for another defensive battle, in a Monday final against Virginia.

Mooney matched his season-high with 22 points, including three 3-pointers over the span of 3 minutes to give Texas Tech a 13-point lead midway through the second half. Mooney, from the far northwest Chicago suburb of Wauconda, is on his third college - he spent his freshman year at Air Force and then attended South Dakota. "It's been a heck of a journey", Mooney said. I knew that I got behind the line for three shots because I practiced that. "It's something I've been watching, and something I dreamed of as a kid. I'm so grateful I got another opportunity".

Two of the three best defenses in the nation will meet for the title on Monday night, the first appearance in the final for each program.

Texas Tech has made a rapid rise in three seasons under Beard, entering the Final Four with the best defensive efficiency rating (84.0) ever recorded in the KenPom ratings that date back to the 2002 season. The Blue Devils also handed Virginia two of its three losses - 72-70 on January 19 at Duke, and 81-71 in the rematch February 9.

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"Both teams have probably envisioned it".

"The thing about Virginia was how they could control the pace of the game". "They were asking me did I know, because I put my face into my jersey, but that was me focusing. So they control the game very well", Williamson said.

This has been quite the run for the Red Raiders.

"I just felt we were not the same team in some ways", Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said, "and I think Texas Tech had a lot do with it".

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