RALEIGH, NC- After a sluggish start, the Virginia Cavaliers came alive midway through the first half and buried the Memphis Tigers with swarming defense to jump our to a 35-20 halftime lead. The Cavaliers never looked back and will advance to the Sweet 16 in New York City with a 78-60 victory.
'It feels great. It's another milestone for this program,' said UVa senior forward Joe Harris, who scored 16 points for the 'Hoos.
'I never thought i'd be in this situation. It's really a blessing,'said Malcolm Brogden
The Cavaliers slowly extended their lead in the second half.Malcolm Brogden's layup with 13:13 to go gave the Cavaliers at 52-31 lead, their first of the game over 20 points.
However, it was the Cavaliers defense that was the key. 'Build a wall wherever the ball is' is what Coach Tony Bennett told his team before the game. 'Memphis is the kind of team that can get back in a hurry. We talked about getting bodies on them,' Bennett said.
With about 6 minutes to go, Memphis forward Shaq Goodwin expressed frustration with his own teammates who did not try to save a ball headed out of bounds. His frustration was echoed by his teammates and coachJosh Pastner.
If there was any doubt, it was erased with 3:39 to go when Harris hit another 3-pointer. Harris left the game with just under 3 minutes to go to a standing ovation from the Cavalier faithful among the 18-thousand plus in attendance.
In the locker room, Harris said 'we ran a really efficient offense, we were really moving them, setting good screens,'
At the 1:21 mark, the crowd chanted 'Tony Bennett' over and over...eliciting a smile from Virginia's coach. A smile he'll take all the way to the Big Apple.