The Virginia men’s basketball team won’t take the floor again to finish out the 2019-20 season after the NCAA canceled all remaining championships this season due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Cavaliers, who rattled off plenty of thrilling finishes last March, won’t have a chance to replicate those in this season’s March Madness.
Despite no NCAA Tournament, UVa thrilled its fans throughout the end of the regular season with nail-biting finishes.
“We’re giving a lot of people a heart attack,” forward Braxton Key joked after a 56-53 February win over Virginia Tech.
With the season over, let’s rank the Cavaliers’ five most exciting close finishes from the 2019-20 season.
5. UVa 48, Arizona State 45
Freshman Casey Morsell posted his best offensive showing of the season in this late November matchup at a neutral site in Connecticut. The freshman scored 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and he hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the final 70 seconds.
While the matchup lacked offensive firepower — the teams shot 35-of-91 (38.5%) from the floor — the two defenses performed well. UVa overcame a nine-point deficit in the second half to win by three points on Morsell’s shot in crunch time.
It was the first thrilling finish of UVa’s eventful season.
4. Louisville 80, UVa 73
Even in a loss, this was certainly one of Virginia’s most exciting games of the 2019-20 season.
The game, played on Feb. 8 in Louisville, marked UVa’s season-high in points at the time. It was the first game all season Virginia exceeded 65 points.
“I’d like to talk about Virginia’s scoring troubles,” Louisville head coach Chris Mack joked.
Tomas Woldetensae led the charge, scoring an impressive 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting and a 7-of-10 mark from 3-point range.
He kept the Cavaliers close despite them allowing a season-high 80 points.
“I don’t want to mispronounce his name,” Mack said, “but that’s one of the best shooting performances I’ve seen. They did a real simple action and it’s just tough to guard when a guy gets that hot.”
For those watching, this game was one of the most intense UVa games of the season. Virginia took a 70-68 lead in the final 3:30 before Louisville finished the game on a 12-3 run.
It was an exciting finish that ended with a Virginia loss.
3. UVa 64, UNC 62
Tomas Woldetensae fouled North Carolina’s Christian Keeling on a 3-point shot with Virginia leading by two points in the final minute.
Keeling made all three free throws. On the next trip down the floor, Woldetensae knocked down a shot in the final second off a pass from Kihei Clark to give Virginia 64-62 road victory on Feb. 15.
“Such a big emotional swing,” Woldetensae said. “At first, I thought I lost it for the team and then I had a chance to redeem myself.”
Woldetensae certainly did redeem himself with the clutch shot late in the contest. On the night, he finished with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
2. UVa 56, Virginia Tech 53
Kihei Clark scored 18 points and added six assists in UVa’s 65-39 win over Virginia Tech in the first meeting of the series. When the rivals met again on Feb. 26, Clark starred again. He scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting to go with six rebounds and six assists.
He also silenced the road crowd with a game-winning shot that came with about two seconds remaining. UVa, which led 26-11 at halftime, withstood a furious Virginia Tech rally to prevail on Clark’s clutch shot.
“Kihei backed the guy up, and what a beautiful, beautiful 3,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “He’s a winner, and I’ve said that often.”
1. UVa 52, Duke 50
Although this game didn’t include a buzzer beater, Duke attempted a game-winner at the buzzer that just missed from Tre Jones. The shot, which came from well behind the 3-point line, nearly fell as Jones put up a decent effort.
Jay Huff blocked 10 shots in the game, putting him behind only Ralph Sampson on UVa’s single-game blocks leaderboard. It was a historic performance from the redshirt junior, who came a rebound shy of a triple double.
The entire game lived up to the hype.
Sampson was in attendance, as was former UVa head coach and athletic director Terry Holland. The game came in front of nearly 15,000 fans jammed into John Paul Jones Arena.
“Every time we had a good offensive bucket and Duke was coming to us, the guys followed the lead trying to get the crowd going,” Huff said. “It was fun. Every time they can do that it helps us.”
It was a special Saturday, and UVa won 52-50 in a riveting contest.
“Well, it was obviously an extremely hard-fought game by both teams,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “It was going to be a really good, tough win for one team and a tough loss for the other, and they got the tough win.”