UConn Wins Back-to-Back Championships

Connecticut Huskies celebrate
The Connecticut Huskies celebrate during the trophy ceremony after beating the Purdue Boilermakers 75-60 to win the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament National Championship game. | Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The UConn Huskies men’s basketball team became the first team to repeat as NCAA champions since the Florida Gators in 2006 and 2007 with a 75-60 win over the Purdue Boilermakers in Glendale, Arizona, on Monday night.

Billed as an epic battle between seven-footers Zach Edey and Donovan Clingan, UConn’s guards proved to be the difference as starters Tristen Newton, Cam Spencer, and Stephon Castle combined for 46 points, 18 rebounds, and 12 assists, and former Texas A&M guard Hassan Diarra added nine points and two rebounds off the bench.

Edey did make things difficult for the Huskies defensively, scoring 16 of Purdue’s first 25 points and putting both Clingan and backup center Samson Johnson in foul trouble throughout the game. Still, UConn won the overall battle of length as its guards ran the Boilermakers off the three-point line and found ways to move past Edey and score in the paint in the second half.

The win also moves UConn into a tie with North Carolina for the third-most national basketball championships in NCAA history with six. The Huskies have won all six of their titles since 1999 and four since 2010.

UConn has also won its last 12 NCAA Tournament games by at least 13 points, asserting its dominance over a two-year stretch and setting an NCAA record. However, next year’s team could look vastly different as Newton — Monday’s Most Outstanding Player — Diarra, and Spencer could all move on, and Clingan and Castle could be early first-round picks in June’s NBA Draft.

Yet, this year’s team faced similar circumstances and still came out on top.

“We just recruit,” head coach Dan Hurley told the broadcast during a postgame interview. “We recruit really talented NBA players that are willing to not make it about themselves and to be a part of a winning group to go for all the championships, and while doing that, their draft stock still is really, really high. So we both win. UConn wins, and the players win.”

The only school to ever win three or more consecutive NCAA championships in men’s basketball is UCLA, which did so under legendary coach John Wooden during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Bruins won back-to-back championships in 1964  and 1965, then won seven consecutive from 1967 to 1973.

Meanwhile, Purdue’s loss extends the Big Ten’s title drought to 24 years.

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