A rocky first half for Virginia in their 80-75 OT win over Purdue appeared to get even worse with a couple minutes to go and the team down by four. On a Boilermaker possession, a defending Kyle Guy got tangled up with Purdue’s Eric Hunter. The UVA junior guard went down with what looked like a painful right ankle injury, and limped off to the bench. At the time, one of college basketball’s most dangerous marksmen was shooting just 1-of-6 from the field, with four points.
Nothing Guy had done, in any NCAA Tournament game this year, had been working for him up to the point of the injury. He had scored 22 points, total, across UVA’s previous three games, and he had hit a remarkably putrid 3-of-26 from three. In a first half where the Cavaliers were mostly on their back heels, down by as many as 10 early on, they urgently needed someone who could match the scoring of the red-hot Carsen Edwards. Guy wasn’t that guy in the beginning, but after he returned from his brief injury scare, he lit up the second-half scoreboard and helped keep his team alive.
Guy came out of the locker room with newfound accuracy and intensity. He hit the first two shots of the period—both threes—to put his team up five, and then he drained another one before the first TV timeout to give UVA a seven-point lead. And then he stayed focused, serving as the counterpoint to Edwards that Virginia had to have. Purdue’s flamethrowing guard was 8-for-13 from the field in the second, with six treys. Guy was 7-for-12, with five treys, to finish with 25 points.
Given their low scores and their ugly history in this tournament, Virginia can be a tough team to take seriously as a contender. But by cutting down the nets in Louisville on Saturday, this team was able to shake off a lot of bad years of underachieving squads, and make it to the Final Four for the first time since long before any of these players were born. For Guy, who’s suffered through both the infamous loss to UMBC and an demoralizing second-round defeat to Florida in 2017, where Virginia only scored 39 points, this emotional win clearly felt like a huge weight off his shoulders.
Said Guy after the game, “If I’d known all I needed to do was sprain my ankle to hit a couple of shots, I would have done it a lot earlier.”