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Virginia takes one other step towards elusive Last 4

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On an evening when each Gene Keady and Ralph Sampson had been within the constructing, Purdue and Virginia every gave themselves an opportunity so as to add one other long-awaited chapter to their respective program histories.

Purdue blew an 18-point result in Tennessee within the second half, however Carsen Edwards hit two free throws with 1.7 seconds left to ship the sport to additional time. The Boilermakers pulled away for a 99-94 win within the additional session.

Virginia had a equally sturdy end, holding Oregon and not using a subject objective for the final 5:43 en path to a 53-49 victory.

Now, each applications could have the chance Saturday evening to achieve the Last 4 for the primary time in 30-plus years. Purdue was final within the nationwide semifinals in 1980, and Virginia reached it in 1984.

Kyle Man celebrates as Virginia superior on Thursday. AP Picture/Michael Conroy

For Virginia, there is a stark distinction to its NCAA event efficiency from a 12 months in the past, when the Cavaliers made historical past by turning into the primary 1-seed to lose to a 16-seed. All season lengthy, Tony Bennett hasn’t shied away from what occurred, selecting as a substitute to embrace it as a studying expertise. Forty minutes from the last word redemption story, Bennett is doing a lot of the identical.

“Final 12 months was an incredible 12 months, you recognize, after which we received to the NCAA event, and that was so laborious,” Bennett stated. “And I knew this was gonna be an necessary 12 months for all of us, in our lives, no matter it introduced. And we would have liked to form of band collectively and wanted one another to undergo it and to reply, up up to now, the way in which they’ve — within the common season after which to get into the NCAA event and be in that spot after we had been down 14 and combat, and proceed to advance. That stuff will stick with these guys, so once more, very grateful, and you recognize you simply need a possibility and right here we’re.”

Purdue hasn’t been at this stage since 2000, however Virginia is on the cusp but once more. The Cavaliers had been on this place in 2016, because the 1-seed below Bennett, however had been shocked by 10-seed Syracuse and Jim Boeheim.

The Boilermakers hadn’t superior in 4 tries below Matt Painter, however they fought again to drive OT and get rid of Tennessee.

Gonzaga received revenge, Texas Tech continued to crush the opposition, and Virginia and Purdue outlasted late expenses for journeys to the Elite Eight.

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Given Thursday evening’s sport ended round 12:30 a.m. native time, it is a quick turnaround for Virginia to face Purdue on Saturday evening — particularly contemplating Bennett did not make a single substitution for the ultimate 15:20 of the competition. All 5 starters performed no less than 36 minutes.

“We have been making ready for this throughout the common season too,” junior guard Ty Jerome stated. “Coach stated he regarded on the schedule when it first got here out and he noticed three Saturday-Monday video games. He was upset at first. To begin March off, he was joyful as a result of it ready us for this robust group, sooner or later of preparation and one other robust group. So we have been making ready for this all season. The ACC did an excellent job of making ready us for this second.”

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Virginia strikes the ball round earlier than Kyle Man finds a wide-open De’Andre Hunter for the layup to offer the Cavaliers a two-possession lead.

The NCAA event has continued the assessments for Virginia, because the Cavaliers haven’t made issues simple on themselves. They trailed 16-seed Gardner-Webb by 14 factors within the first spherical earlier than cruising to a win within the second half, after which trailed Oregon by three with 5:43 left after Louis King buried a Three-pointer to cap an 11-Three run by the Geese.

However the Cavaliers locked down the remainder of the sport, holding Oregon to solely 4 free throws over the ultimate 5:43.

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“We’re in March, and it is 40-minute territory, as Coach at all times tells us,” junior guard Kyle Man stated. “So it helps that we attempt to keep calm below stress and that we attempt to execute and get stops defensively, it doesn’t matter what the rating is or how hectic the sport goes. That can at all times be in our benefit, and we will attempt to proceed to carry that to each sport.”

Saturday would be the final take a look at of Virginia’s psychological toughness. Whether or not Virginia can really rid itself of the 16-over-1 demons from final 12 months; whether or not the Cavaliers can get Bennett over the hump and into the Last 4; and whether or not among the finest applications in faculty basketball over the previous six years can put its stamp on the game.

And on the opposite facet might be Purdue and its personal Last 4 drought, led by a head coach in Matt Painter who simply gained his first Candy 16 sport in 5 tries.

Historical past — and a visit to Minneapolis — is on the road.


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