LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Saved in regulation by a buzzer-beating floater by Mamadi Diakite, Virginia made the most of its good fortune Saturday night at KFC Yum! Center.
Kyle Guy, an Indiana boy playing against one of his in-state schools, scored 25 points and hit two free throws with 5.7 seconds remaining as Virginia defeated Purdue 80-75 in overtime to secure its first trip to the Final Four since 1984.
“No one knows what this team has been through,” Tony Bennett said during a TV interview moments after the final buzzer. “I do.”
Perhaps outsiders were not aware of internal details, but part of the Cavaliers’ trials were connected with how last year ended, when UVa was ousted in the first round by a No. 16 seed.
The Cavaliers (33-3) withstood a commanding performance by Purdue guard Carsen Edwards, a second-team All-American who finished with 42 points
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A cast of UVa defenders couldn’t contain Edwards, a junior, who scored 26 points in the second half for Purdue (26-10).
Guy led the Cavaliers in scoring and fellow junior Ty Jerome added 24 points. Guy, a 6-foot-3 guard, added a game-high 10 rebounds for a double-double. Jerome had a game-high seven assists and Diakite had a game-high four blocked shots.
Ryan Cline had scored 27 points for Purdue in its 99-94 overtime victory over Tennessee in the South Region semifinals but was held in check Saturday by Guy, his old travel teammate and high-school rival in the Indianapolis area.
Virginia trailed 30-29 at the half, but the Cavaliers were fortunate to be that close after falling behind hot-shooting Purdue 25-16.
The Boilermakers were 8-of-19 on 3-pointers in the first half, riding the back of junior guard Edwards, who had 16 points as UVa guarded him with an assortment of defenders.
Virginia started out with 5-foot-9 freshman Kihei Clark on Edwards, who is listed at 6-1 but seems a little shorter. It was good for Purdue that he was hitting because no other Purdue player had more than six points at the half.
Diakite had 10 points for Virginia at the half and Ty Jerome had eight. Guy, averaging 14.9 points per game, was 1 for 6 from the field in the first half and missed all three of his fields-goal attempts.
Guy appeared to have a foot injury that sent him to the sidelines as the half ended but hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start the second half as UVa went up 35-30.
Cline finished with seven points and the only other Boilermaker with more than six was Edwards.
Purdue shot 49.1 percent from the field, compared to UVa’s 41.5 percent accuracy.