UConn wins the title in grand fashion, Hurley says ‘I don’t think that we’re going anywhere’

GLENDALE – The Connecticut Huskies will leave 2024 like it left 2023 … as champions of the men’s college basketball world.

For two years they’ve been the masters of March and the angels of April.

They methodically – surgical, more like it – defeated Purdue here at State Farm Stadium, 75-60, becoming the first men’s team to go back-to-back since Florida did it in 2007. It’s the eighth team to win in back-to-back fashion.

Could it now be considered one of the all-time best college basketball teams ever?

Perhaps, or it depends on whom you ask.

“I think it’s up there in terms of the greatest two-year runs that a program maybe has ever had just because …,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said as he tailed off to think a bit. “I can’t say anything about Duke (who won in back-to-back fashion) because I’m going to piss my brother (Bobby who was a guard) off. But I guess I can say stuff about Florida. But I love (former coach Billy Donovan), so I’m in a bad spot (smiling).”

He then said it’s been a long time this has happened maybe, yes, it’s the best in some time.

“We lost (a lot) from last year’s team,” he said, referring to its talent. “To lose that much and, again, to do what we did again, it’s got to be as impressive a two-year run as a program’s had since prior to whoever did it before Duke. To me, it is more impressive than what Florida and Duke did because they brought back their entire teams. We lost some major players.”

It also makes it six national titles in the last 25 years, more than any other team in that span. Only UCLA has had more in a 25-year span. It’s now tied with North Carolina for the third-most titles. On the awards podium, Hurley said “UConn has been running college for the last 25-30 years.”

Bold, but kind of true.

“I saw a sign somewhere where it said six in 25,” said Alex Karaban, a Huskie forward who has been on the last two title teams and had five points on Monday night. “It’s truly incredible. This is back-to-back so it’s incredibly special. I hope we are a blue blood now, if we are not a blueblood I give up.”

If anything, they are a new age of blue blood, where winning has come relatively easy.

No team in this NCAA tournament came within single digits. UConn is the sixth team to win by double digits in each game enroute to the title, joining Michigan State (2000), Duke (2001), North Carolina (2009), Villanova (2018) and UConn last year.

“Obviously, what could you say?” Hurley said, “We won – by a lot again.”

It was a runaway freight train that could – and did.

The Huskies trailed for just six minutes, 12 seconds the entire tournament with the largest deficit being five points, which came on Saturday vs. Alabama.

The Huskies dominated inside, outside and every other way.

Purdue had Zach Edey and the Huskies had a committee of players who made it tough on Edey (to a degree) and everyone else (in every way).

Scouting proved to be on-point, too. Stop the 3-point line and you stop Purdue.

Edey had 37 points of Purdue’s 60 and Purdue, the best 3-point shooting team in the country which came in averaging eight a game, hit only one in seven attempts.

“We knew he was going to get his points,” said UConn’s Tristen Newton, who was named the most outstanding player after scoring 20 points. “It took him 25 shots to get 37 points. That was the game plan, just limit the guard … (we) need to limit them and their impacts.”

And they did. Purdue shot 44 percent. Everyone not named Edey went 9 for 29. Braden Smith was the only other Boilermaker who scored in double figures, with 12.

“We’ve played against athletes, played against some really good defensive guys this year and in the tournament, but not the collection of defensive players like UConn has,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.

UConn played its scheme to perfection. See what Edney can get under the conditions, but don’t let Purdue’s perimeter beat them.

“It would be hard for them to catch up with those twos,” said Donovan Clingan, who helped defend Edey.

Edey hit 25 of 35 shots as the Boilermakers went “to the well with Zach as much as we could.”

But it was hardly enough.

UConn, which finished the season 37-3, was way too much.

“It’s a special run,” Hurley said. “Yeah … we’re going to try to replicate it again. We’re going to maintain a championship culture. We’re bringing in some very talented high school freshmen. Our returning players, through player development, will take a big jump. We’ll strategically add through the portal. “I don’t think that we’re going anywhere.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top