BROOKLYN, NY -- Their national stature may have changed throughout the year, but the way the Virginia Cavaliers go about their business has not wavered. Their ACC title win over North Carolina was another example of little flash, but plenty of finish.
Behind 16 points from tournament MVP Kyle Guy and another 15 from Devon Hall, the Cavaliers led for all but 54 seconds of their third tournament title in school history and their second in the last five years.
"If you can't enjoy this with this group of guys, and seeing their heart," Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said. "We weren't perfect and we battled. Winning the regular season and then this means a lot."
"It's special," added Hall. "It speaks to this group and how tough we are. We have been battling all season."
The Tar Heels did not go down without a fight, but never seemed to put enough momentum together to completely throw a scare into UVA, a common refrain from all of the Cavalier opponents this season.
UNC was the first team to score more than one point per possession on the Hoos, but never got closer than four points in the second half.
Luke Maye led all scorers with 20 points and Joel Berry added 17. Former L.C. Bird standout Kenny Williams had 12 for the Tar Heels.
But it was UVA, the team that started the season unranked, that holds the crown and will be the number one overall seed when the NCAA tournament begins later this week. They have accomplished two-thirds of the goals they set when the season began.
"To be what we were preseason, and tune out everyone and just work and stay united, it's a big accomplishment," said Ty Jerome, a native of New Rochelle, NY just north of New York City. "We've got one more goal to do now."
Bennett quoted Psalm 133 from the bible before and after the game to his team that he felt summed up their efforts. "It's a good and precious thing when brothers dwell together in unity. "
"That's what I think sets this team apart."