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Notes & Quotes: UConn advances to the national championship
The Huskies continue their run of dominance by holding Miami to its lowest point total of the season.
Adama Sanogo led the way for UConn once again with 21 points and 10 rebounds as UConn pounded Miami, 72-59, in the Final Four’s second contest in Houston.
The Huskies (30-8) advance to play San Diego State in Monday night’s national championship game.
“We were just all over our identity today,” UConn head coach Dan Hurley said. “Plus nine on the glass…we were sitting on that 20-plus assist number. We were hurting them on the inside, hurting them from the perimeter.”
UConn notched its fifth straight victory by double digits and advanced to the program’s fifth national championship game. The Huskies never trailed as they dispatched the Hurricanes (29-8) in a relatively comfortable fashion, leading for all but 38 seconds when the game was tied at 19-19. After that, it was all Huskies.
“We were never in sync offensively,” Miami coach Jim Larragna said. “We were never able to relax and play our game all night.”
Jordan Hawkins, who was battling a stomach bug, scored 13 points, 10 in the second half, while freshman Alex Karaban had eight points with nine rebounds. UConn turned in an elite defensive performance. Miami was 25 percent from the field at the half and finished at 32 percent and 35 percent from three.
What Went Well
Sanogo Eats: He’s been the driving force for the Huskies throughout the tournament, and once again Adama Sanogo was the man for the Huskies. In addition to his stellar low-post play, he dropped two 3-pointers early and Miami had no answer for stopping him. He finished 9-of-11 from the field. And he’s still fasting, though he was able to eat before this game’s 8:49 p.m. tip.
Miami head coach Jim Larranaga: “Obviously what we tried to do not only didn't work, I couldn't even recognize it.”
Too Deep, Too Furious: The Huskies flexed their muscles once again with a wealth of talent in the starting lineup and off the bench. Jackson sat most of the first half with two fouls, but it didn’t matter as the Huskies had Nahiem Alleyne, Joey Calcaterra, and Donovan Clingan ready to step up.
Larranaga: “We were just out of character…we didn't execute what we planned to do at either end of the floor, and Connecticut deserves a lot of credit for that. They were terrific…got Sanogo involved early, often. [We] were trying to figure out at every timeout what to do.”
New Night, Same Story: The Huskies stuck to the script that has been working for them, and are powering through the NCAA Tournament with incredible poise.
Hurley: “We're able to kind of body blow our opponent and continue to just put together quality possessions at both ends and the backboard, it has a cumulative effect. It's been able to break opponents, and we are a unique team in terms of our style of play…When people see us for the first time with the two centers and all the shooting, there's no real players like Andre Jackson in the country, he's so hard to prepare for. We're a unique team.”
WHAT NEEDS WORK
Jackson Fouls: Two quick fouls for Andre Jackson, four minutes in, could have spelled trouble for the Huskies. They didn’t look their best, obviously, with him out, but they survived the spell and still took a 13-point lead into the halftime break.
Tristen Newton: “Andre is one of the best defenders not only on our team but in the nation. Wong is a really good player. He got in the gaps. That was the game plan the whole time. Get in the gap, force them to shoot tough shots.”
Turnovers: Especially when Jackson sat in the first, UConn was sloppy offensively at times. The Huskies had seven turnovers in the first half and nine in the second, losing the turnover battle, 15-9.
Hurley: “Obviously the turnovers at times got a little bit sloppy.”
Rebounding: The Huskies lost the battle on the offensive boards, giving Miami a chance to get back into the game and feel like they had a chance. It was a 9-3 advantage at the half, however, UConn closed to 14-13 by the end.
Jordan Hawkins Flu Game: The Huskies’ star shooter was under the weather. He had enough to score the first points of the game and pour in 10 in the second half.
Hurley: “This guy next to me who has felt like death the last two days, to be able to give us what he gave us, obviously these performances are why we're moving on.”
Once again, the Huskies were in complete control.
The Huskies are 5-1 all-time in Final Four appearances with the lone loss coming in 2009 against Michigan State (in Detroit). … UConn is 44-11 in its last 16 NCAA Tournament appearances. … Among the Husky alumni that were expected in Houston this weekend: Kemba Walker, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Jake Voskuhl, Charlie Villanueva, A.J. Price, Marcus Williams, Rashad Anderson, and Emeka Okafor. Oh yeah, and Jim Calhoun. … Geno Auriemma and Chris Dailey were in the house as well Saturday night … Hawkins and Sanogo were finalists for the Jerry West and Kareem Abduhl-Jabbar awards, respectively, but neither won. Houston’s Marcus Sasser and Purdue’s Zach Edey won the awards, respectively.
The national championship game against San Diego State, Monday at 9:20 p.m. on CBS. It will be a rematch of the 2011 Sweet 16 game that featured future NBA stars Kemba Walker and Kawhi Leonard.
The Aztecs hold a 32-6 record after winning their conference regular-season and tournament crowns and beating top overall seed Alabama and Creighton last weekend in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. They advanced in the Final Four after a last-second shot bested FAU in Saturday’s early game.
Oddsmakers have the Huskies as 7-point favorites while KenPom gives UConn a 5-point advantage and a 69 percent chance to win the game.