Discover more from The UConn Fast Break
Notes & Quotes: UConn dominates Gonzaga
The Huskies have assumed the role of national favorites after cruising through the West Regional.
UConn officially has the nation on watch.
The fourth-seeded Huskies traded blows with 3-seed Gonzaga early but buried the Bulldogs in the second half to advance to the program’s sixth Final Four with an impressive 82-54 victory Saturday in Las Vegas. It was the Zags’ worst scoring performance of the season.
Jordan Hawkins hit 6 of 10 from 3-point range on his way to a team-high 20 points for the Huskies (29-8). He was named Most Outstanding Player of the West Region.
“I see the first one go in, I felt good. I was getting a lot of open looks. So I was letting it fly,” Hawkins said after the game.
Alex Karaban added 12 points and Adama Sanogo scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while also dishing out four assists. He did a great job of adjusting to defensive pressure with passes to open teammates and was named to the all-regional team.
“UConn is back,” Hawkins proclaimed.
Eight Huskies scored at least six points as UConn won by its largest margin of the tournament, having defeated all four opponents in the Big Dance by 15 points or more.
“We had a goal to make to it the Final Four, but more importantly to win a national championship. That's what we're still pushing towards,” Andre Jackson said.
Bulldog star Drew Timme, who scored 36 points in the Sweet 16 win over UCLA, was in foul trouble for much of the final 30 minutes of this game and couldn’t handle Sanogo down low. He led the Bulldogs (31-6) with 12 points, going 5 of 14 from the field.
After inflicting 40 minutes of hell on Arkansas in an 88-65 victory in the Sweet 16, the Huskies kept that intensity for another game. They took a 39-32 lead at halftime and then opened the second half with a 21-5 run to put the game out of reach.
“UConn was just terrific tonight and we didn’t have any answers,” Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said.
The UConn Fast Break is a reader-supported publication. We’ll have a photographer and multiple reporters in Houston, thanks to our premium subscribers!
A closer look at UConn’s win:
What Went Well
All Systems Go: Sanogo and Hawkins have been heavy lifters in the tournament. This was the case again, but everyone was on their game in this one. A seven-point halftime lead turned into an 18-point route in the opening four minutes of the second half and UConn rolled on. Seven players had eight points or more.
Dan Hurley: “To do what we did to a team of that caliber, obviously we were playing at a super high level…we’re surprised by the margin of victory but not where we are going next, because this has been who we are for a large part of the season.”
The Maestro: Andre Jackson’s postseason has been a masterpiece. He’s the heart and soul of the team and a playmaker on both ends, finishing this game with eight points, nine rebounds, and a team-high 10 assists. In four NCAA games, Jackson has 31 assists and just six turnovers.
Hurley: “There’s not many players in the country who impact the game the way this guy does.”
Andre Jackson: “At the end of the day, I’m going to play the game to my strengths and play to win.”
Suffocating Defense: Gonzaga came in leading the nation in scoring (87 points per game) while shooting 52.6 percent from the field and 38.6 on 3-pointers. The Huskies’ D shut down the Bulldogs, who shot 33.3 percent from the field and were just 2 of 20 (10%) on 3-pointers.
What Needs Work
Eighty Minutes to History: Former UConn coach Jim Calhoun told this squad they were 80 minutes from Houston. Now they’re 80 minutes away from a fifth national championship in a Final Four field that will include FAU, who punched its ticket with a win over Kansas State, and the winners of Miami vs. Texas and Creighton vs. San Diego State.
Jackson: “To start the season, they didn’t even have us in the top 25. We’ve got a lot to prove. We’ve still got a chip on our shoulder.”
UConn has won three national titles in the state of Texas. … Sanogo came in averaging 23.3 points and 9.7 rebounds in the tournament. … Four of the Huskies’ five previous trips to the Final Four ended with national titles. … UConn is 6-6 all-time in the Elite Eight. The program has never been the national runner-up … Former Husky guard Jalen Gaffney is also off to the Final Four with Florida Atlantic. Gaffney transferred there in the off-season after three seasons at UConn.
Being the “road” team in this one did not seem to affect the Huskies, who maintained control aside from a short period in the middle of the first half where Gonzaga closed in and briefly held a lead.
UConn will take on the winner of Sunday’s Miami vs. Texas Elite Eight matchup. They’ll be tipping off on Saturday, April 1 from NRG Stadium at a time to be determined.
The Fast Break will be on-site in Houston for coverage!