Virginia looks to 'break down door' to Final 4 minus HunterFILE - In this Friday, March 9, 2018, file photo, Virginia guard De'Andre Hunter (12) pulls down a rebound next to Clemson guard Shelton Mitchell (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in New York. Hunter, the ACC's sixth man of the year, will miss the NCAA tournament with a broken left wrist. The school says Hunter suffered the injury during the ACC tournament, but did not say how. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Every now and again Virginia coach Tony Bennett will receive a text message from a former player that simply reads: Keep knocking coach.
Bennett keeps a doorknocker in the Cavaliers locker room back in Charlottesville, Virginia, an ongoing symbolic reminder of his team's goal to ''break down the door'' to the Final Four.
''That's the way to touch something special - you just keep knocking,'' Bennett said. ''Sometimes the door gets slammed in your face. .... You just try to keep knocking and bust through that door. That's the mentality.''
It's something they haven't been able to do under Bennett.
Despite being a No. 1 seed twice and a No. 2 seed once in the previous four seasons, Virginia hasn't been able to reach the Final Four. In fact, it has been 34 years since the Cavaliers last went to the national semifinals.
Now they're the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and hoping they have what it takes to bust down that door.
The Cavaliers (31-2) when they face 16th-seeded UMBC (24-10) in the first round Friday.
However far they go, they'll have to do it without De'Andre Hunter, the ACC's Sixth Man of the Year. He will miss the NCAA Tournament with a broken left wrist.
Bennett, who met his wife in Charlotte and played for the NBA's Charlotte Hornets, said he believes Hunter was injured when he fell during a semifinal win against Clemson in the ACC Tournament last week. Hunter went on play in the championship win against North Carolina, but had an MRI after the tournament revealed a break.
Hunter said it hurt during the UNC game but felt he ''had to play.''
Bennett said Mamadi Diakite, Nigel Johnson and Marco Anthony will see additional playing time.
Other things to watch in the South region on Friday:
FOCUS ON FOSTER: All eyes will be on Creighton senior guard Marcus Foster when eighth-seeded Bluejays (21-11) face No. 9 Kansas State (22-11) in the other game in the South region game Friday in Charlotte.
Foster spent two years at Kansas State but was forced to leave the school for what he said were some immature decisions. Foster landed at Creighton, where he's become a team leader and the school's leading scorer averaging more than 20 points per game.
''I had to grow up and mature,'' said Foster, now the father of a 5-month old daughter. ''Now I'm in a spot where I am the man I wanted to become. It was just a little learning curve I had to go through.''
THEY'VE MET BEFORE: In Nashville, No. 2 Cincinnati (30-4) faces 15th-seeded Georgia State (24-10). While the teams have never met, the coaches have competed against each other off the court.
Cincinnati's Mick Cronin recruited R.J. Hunter, who ended up starring for his dad at Georgia State from 2012-15 and leading the Panthers to a 2015 NCAA Tournament upset of Baylor.
''My son wanted to go to Cincinnati, so I had to hate Mick in my household until R.J. actually committed to me,'' Georgia State coach Ron Hunter joked. ''He actually liked Mick for some reason. He came home one day and said he was going to play at Cincinnati, and that changed my entire life.''
THE STOOL IS BACK: Ron Hunter is healthy for this NCAA Tournament and won't have to sit for an entire game as he memorably did three years ago when he fell off a stool in the closing seconds of the Panthers' NCAA Tournament upset of Baylor at Jacksonville, Florida.
But the team brought the stool to Nashville anyway as Georgia State prepares to face Cincinnati.
''It's more of a good luck thing that we wanted to bring,'' Hunter said. ''I didn't want to bring it, but everybody else wanted to bring it. It was good luck for everyone but me.''
Hunter needed the stool for the 2014 NCAA Tournament because he had torn his left Achilles while celebrating Georgia State's Sun Belt Conference Tournament title that season.
''We actually kept it in a private place at school,'' Hunter said. ''We decided, 'Let's just bring it to Nashville like we did Jacksonville and, hopefully, we'll get the same success.'''
BAMBA RETURNS: In the other South region game on Friday in Nashville, 10th-seeded Texas (19-9) will face No. 7 Nevada (27-7).
Longhorns forward Mohamed Bamba says he's feeling better after missing three games with a toe injury and said he should be ready to play. The Big 12 rebounding leader returned for the Big 12 Tournament loss to Texas Tech and said he's benefited from the layoff since that March 8 game.
When Bamba was asked if he was ready to play 35 minutes against Nevada, the potential NBA lottery pick replied, ''I'm ready to play 40.''
Nevada is trying to bounce back from a surprisingly lopsided 90-73 Mountain West Tournament loss to San Diego State. Nevada's previous six losses had been decided by a total of 26 points, including two overtime games.
AP Sports Writer Steve Megargee in Nashville, Tennessee., contributed to this report.
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