UConn dominates Purdue to repeat as March Madness champions

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By journalsofus.com

college basketball

march madness 2024

GLENDALE, Ariz. – It was 2007 again.

The best player stood no chance against the team in pursuit of history.

That year, Florida defeated Ohio State and Greg Oden to complete back-to-back national championship runs.

On Monday night, Connecticut joined the Gators as the only teams to repeat this century.

UConn became the second program this century to repeat as March Madness champion. AP
Zach Eddy walks off the court after Purdue loses to UConn in the national championship. getty images

It did it in even more impressive fashion: with three new starters and by treating this NCAA Tournament like a series of scrimmages.

Purdue and Zack Eddy hung with the overall top seed at halftime, but the reigning Big Ten champions had no chance when coach Dan Hurley’s team turned up the intensity.

Boiler manufacturers didn’t have that extra gear.

The game slipped away midway through the second half, with UConn advancing to its sixth national championship with a 75–60 victory in front of 74,423 at State Farm Stadium.

UConn clinched its second consecutive championship with a win against Purdue on Monday. AP

By defeating all six of their opponents in the tournament by double figures, averaging 23.3 points, the Huskies equaled the previous season’s impressive performance, and became Big East champions for the fourth time in eight years.

“I think this is one of the best two-year performances of any program we’ve ever had,” Hurley said. “I can’t say anything about the Duke, because that would upset my brother. … To me it’s more impressive than Florida and Duke because they brought their entire teams back. We lost some key players.”

Hurley, the former high school coach at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark and son of legendary coach Bob Hurley Sr., becomes the third active coach with multiple titles – St. John’s Rick Pitino and Kansas’ Bill Self are the others.

In nine postseason games, Connecticut once won by single points over St. John’s in the Big East Tournament semifinals.

Tristan Newton received the Most Outstanding Player award after UConn’s win on Monday. getty images

Eddie starts off fast, but runs out of gas.

The repeat National Player of the Year finished with 37 points on 25 shots, but most of it was hollow.

When UConn took over early in the second half, he was quiet, with Donovan Clingan slowing him down.

“I just have to play better,” Eddy said. “It’s one of those games where I can’t go into stretches where I’m not effective. Today I had some of those stretches and that was the game.

Dan Hurley celebrates during UConn’s win over Purdue on Monday. AP
Tristan Newton led UConn with 20 points in its win on Monday. getty images

Meanwhile, as the game went on, the Connecticut (37-3) guards got better, having their way with their slower, smaller and less athletic Boilermaker counterparts.

It was a mismatch between future NBA players and good college guards in the backcourt.

The UConn trio of Tristan Newton, Cam Spencer and Stephon Cassel defeated Fletcher Lauer, Braden Smith and Lance Jones 46-17, outscoring them with length and explosiveness.

Newton was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four after scoring 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds in his final college game.

Zach Eddy led Purdue in scoring during the championship loss to the Boilermakers. AP

UConn’s game plan was to let AD take over while allowing Klingon to defend him one-on-one and limit everyone else.

The Huskies held Purdue (34-5), the nation’s second-best 3-point shooting team, to just one 3-pointer on seven attempts.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said, “We’ve played against athletes, some very good defensive guys this year and in the tournament, but not a collection of defensive players like UConn.” “Whoever we play against, they will have a lockdown defender. These people are removing the lockdown defenders from the bench.

The first half felt very much like Saturday, in which Alabama played its “A” game, did everything right and still trailed at the break.

Purdue dictated the pace, limited turnovers and AD played well.

It still trailed by six runs at the break and Connecticut pulled away after intermission.

Providing a change of momentum for the Clingans, Samson Johnson scored on consecutive alley-oop dunks, increasing the lead to 13.

After Eddy responded with four consecutive points, Connecticut responded with consecutive baskets from Spencer and Newton.

The college basketball season still had a 13-point lead with 11:31 remaining.

UConn increased its lead against Purdue in the second half. AP

But, in fact, there was no longer any doubt about it.

The Connecticut fans were outnumbered and screaming, making their voices heard for most of the evening.

With 36 seconds remaining, Hurley vacated the bench and inserted his son Andrew into the game.

For the 12th time in the last two years, Andrew got a chance to dribble the clock in an NCAA Tournament game.

Hurley hugged his starting players and waved his arms to get the Huskies fans loud.

The college basketball world became champions again for the first time in 17 years — and Connecticut made it look easy.

But the ultra-intense Hurley didn’t seem entirely satisfied – he planned to break up next year’s roster on the flight home.

“S–t, we’re going to try to repeat it again,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going anywhere.”

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