MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Guy heard the referee's whistle right away. When he buried his face in his jersey after getting fouled by Auburn guard Samir Doughty in the process of shooting a 3-pointer on Virginia's final possession of Saturday's national semifinal win, the junior sharpshooter wasn't expressing relief. Guy had a mere moment to lock in with his team's fate resting on his shoulders.
"That was me focusing," Guy said. "I knew they called a foul. I knew that I got behind the line for three shots because I practiced that. I just literally told myself that we dream of these moments, and to be able to make one happen was special."
Guy was fouled when Doughty made contact with his right leg and was sent to the line with 0.6 seconds remaining to shoot three free throws with Virginia trailing 62-60. After sinking the first two, Auburn coach Bruce Pearl used a 60-second timeout to ice Guy at the line.
While his teammates gathered together in a cluster on the court, Guy walked away. In that moment, with the biggest shot of his life hanging in the balance, he needed to be alone.
"Yeah, I didn't want to have anything to do with my teammates or coaches at that time," Guy said. "I just wanted to be in my own space. I knew they had confidence in me; I just needed to build up my own. And we all practiced those shots as a kid. They were probably a little bit more spectacular than free throws, but whatever it takes to win."
Guy recorded six points in the final seven seconds of Virginia's 63-62 win to send the Cavaliers to Monday's national championship. Before the shot on which he was fouled, Guy nailed a corner 3 near Virginia's bench with seven seconds left to put his team within a point of Auburn.
It was a moment Virginia had been waiting on from its star guard. Guy's last basket before that came via a step-back jumper with 11:24 to play in the second half.
This box score, with his perfect 3-for-3 mark from the free throw line, is one Guy will want to keep forever. The junior has fought through a shooting slump throughout the NCAA tournament, at one time missing 16 consecutive 3-pointers -- a streak that lasted from the second half of Virginia's opening-round win over Gardner-Webb through the second half of the Cavaliers' Sweet 16 showdown with Oregon.
On Saturday, Guy struggled to find his outside shot, finishing with 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including two made 3-pointers on six attempts.
Despite his ups and downs, there was little doubt in the guard's mind that he could suppress any nerves that arose before the biggest moment of his career.
"I try to always stay confident in myself" Guy said. "I feel if we were in this situation in the second round, where I was 0-for-10 from 3, I'd still be confident I was going to knock down the free throws. I was in awe the entire beginning of the warm-ups and stuff, just looking around and being 5 feet elevated from the ground and being in a football stadium. This is the stuff that kids dream of, and I'm just very thankful to be here."
Added Virginia coach Tony Bennett: "The fact that he hit that shot before it and then stepped to the line. ... You know, we were 6-of-12 from the line, and we struggled from the line, but for him in that setting to do it, yeah, it doesn't get much better than that. Terrific -- sorry, that wasn't a strong enough word. Amazing, spectacular, is that ... I don't have many more. I didn't graduate from UVa, so my vocab is a little limited."
While Guy knew immediately he'd have one last shot to lead Virginia past Auburn, Doughty stood on the court in disbelief. Asked for his perspective on the late-game foul, the Auburn guard said he felt no contact was made.
"I didn't think I fouled him, but -- the refs thought otherwise," Doughty said. "And like I said, I trust their decision, man, all the time. That's why they're reffing the Final Four. But I'll get a chance to look at that myself, and I'll judge it myself. I'll be my own ref."
While the controversial call (and preceding missed double-dribble on Ty Jerome) will certainly be at the center of the Final Four dialogue, Guy's huge shots were ones he had been preparing for his entire life.
This was a moment, Guy recalled, that he dreamed about as a kid, playing by himself in his driveway with a chance to walk off a hero after hitting a game-winning shot. Though the scenario played out differently at U.S. Bank Stadium, the importance behind the painstaking moments of practicing free throws again and again culminated in Guy and the Cavaliers walking off as winners.
"I've had my fair share of 'I don't really feel like shooting free throws' [moments], but again, with everything this team has been through [and] I've been through, it's really easy to be like, 'All right, we're going to have a chance to do something special, and this is going to be important,'" Guy said. "We really dial in, Coach makes us shoot free throws before and after [practice]. Obviously, it's paying off."