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UConn completes a dominant run to its second straight NCAA title, defeating Zach Edey and Purdue 75-60 – JS



UConn completes a dominant run to its second straight NCAA title, defeating Zach Edey and Purdue 75-60 – The Denver Post

By EDDIE PELLS (AP National Writer)

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – A basketball beatdown. A coaching clinic. A double-digit dominance.

One guess who played another game of college basketball. You bet it’s UConn – a team built to win now, and often, and by a lot, every time it takes the field.

Coach Dan Hurley’s Huskies delivered the last of their suffocating hoops performances Monday night, smothering Purdue for a 75-60 win and becoming the first team since 2007 to capture back-to-back national championships.

Tristen Newton scored 20 points for the Huskies, who won their 12th straight March Madness game — none decided by fewer than 13 points.

UConn was efficient on offense, but won on defense. The Huskies (37-3) limited the nation’s second-best three-point shooting team to just seven shots behind the arc and just one shot, while happily letting 7-foot-4 AP Player of the Year Zach Edey go. 37 points on 25 shot attempts.

UConn won its sixth overall title, joining the Florida Gators of 2006-07 and the Duke Blue Devils of 1991-92 as just the third team to repeat since John Wooden’s UCLA dynasty of the 1960s and 1970s.

“I just think this is the best two-year streak in a very, very long time just because of everything we lost from last year’s team,” said Hurley, whose top two scorers from last year are now in the NBA . “To lose that much and do it again, it has to be as impressive over a two-year period as it was before Duke.”

The 2024 Huskies are the sixth team to win all six tournament games by double-digit margins. They won those games by a total of 140 points, breezing past the 1996 Kentucky team, which won the six by 129.

In a matchup of two top seeds, they defeated the Boilermakers (34-5), who had made it this far a year after becoming only the second No. 1 seed in March Madness history to fall in the first round. But Purdue left the same way he came: still looking for the program’s first NCAA title.

So much for the free-for-all that was supposed to be this new era of the transfer portal and name, image and likeness deals. UConn has figured out how to dominate its roster and complement it with players who understand their roles.

Cam Spencer, a transfer from Rutgers, Stephon Castle, a freshman, and Alex Karaban, a sophomore from last year’s team, spent the night guarding the three-point line and making life difficult for Purdue’s guards.

“They just made a decision: We can defend the perimeter, and we can take this away from you. You’re going to get the ball to your best player, he’s going to be one-on-one, and that’s that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.

This was only the second time this season that Purdue didn’t make 10 three-point attempts, and how about this final score: Edey 37, the rest of the Boilermakers 23.

How serious was Hurley about defending the perimeter? When Braden Smith broke free for a semi-open look to make Purdue’s first three of the game with 2:17 left in the first half, the coach stormed the floor and called a timeout.

And that was that from behind the arc.

“The coaches made it clear that if we controlled their three-point attempts, we would be really locked in,” Spencer said. “By showing them seven shows, we had to make sure their guards didn’t get involved.”

With his Xs-and-Os masterpiece, Hurley joins former Florida coach Billy Donovan in the back-to-back club, joining Bill Self and Rick Pitino as the third active coach with two championships. Over the weekend, news broke that it appears there is an opening at Kentucky, and the UConn coach’s name has been listed there.

“I don’t think that’s a problem,” Hurley said. “My wife, you should let her answer that.”

The Huskies definitely wouldn’t want to lose him.

Hurley earned every cent in this one. In the first half he begged, cursed and berated the referees about back, elbows and hip checks that weren’t called.

Once, when that didn’t work after Edey made a tough (and probably legal) call against Castle, Hurley himself started attacking Edey as the center walked to the Purdue bench for a timeout.

But the coach’s best work came in the hotel room where he laid out the game plan.

“The whole game plan was no Smith, no Loyer, no Jones, no Gillis,” Hurley said, ticking off the surnames of the Purdue guards. “We knew if we kept them as a group under 18, 20 points, they had no chance of winning no matter how well Zach played.”

It’s no small feat for Edey, who put up a valiant fight and finished with 10 rebounds, recording his 30th double-double of the season. But this game proved the mathematicians and analysis experts right. UConn let Edey back in all night and back on 7-2 Donovan Clingan, giving up tough 2s in the post in exchange for any 3s.

“They doubled up late in the second half, but at that point we had dug ourselves too deep,” Fletcher Loyer said.

The defensive dominance provided the finishing touch to a tournament in which UConn’s average margin of victory was 23.3 points. Of course, Hurley may have to replace two or three of these players, but the coach said he’ll worry about that in a week or two.

“It’s clear, what can you say?” he said. “We have won again – by a large margin.”


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