Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced Hall's season-ending injury earlier in the week after he had surgery on his ankle.
Virginia was trailing the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
And on Monday night, with essential contributions from Key, Virginia won its first national championship, defeating Texas Tech in overtime, , just one year after that devastating, infamous defeat.
This was particularly true after the team got a No. In all six games of this tournament, the Cavaliers were the team with the better seed.
There was no game they were not supposed to win, even as observers doubted them every time. It was like walking a tightrope made of eggshells stretched over very thin ice. Virginia did not make it easy on its frayed nerves with a series of closer-than-close contests in this tournament.
It defeated Oregon, a No. But Monday night, he played 28 minutes — far higher than his season average of He quietly led his team in rebounds, with He no-look assisted on a Guy score late in the second half, and assisted on a Hunter 3-pointer in overtime.
His role was, if not precisely part of the master plan, then at least a foreseeable eventuality, according to a Virginia coach. In many ways, it all came back to U.
They saw a 6-foot-8 jigsaw puzzle piece that fit perfectly into the team that was taking shape after the departures of the seniors Isaiah Wilkins and Devon Hall.
We needed a guy who could rebound, we needed a guy who could handle the ball, who had size. It is part of why the game was not the low-scoring, unexciting slugfest that some had feared.
And that meant many minutes for Key. Perhaps the wedge that separates the two events is a player like Hunter, who was the Atlantic Coast Conference sixth man of the year last season and led all players Monday night with a career-high 27 points but who did not play in the U.
Or a player like Clark, a freshman. Or Key, who arrived last summer with substantial experience yet a clean slate on a team still reeling from the previous March.
So be it.