UConn dominates Purdue again as March Madness champions

College basketball

March Madness 2024

Glendale, Ariz. – It was 2007 again.

The best player stands no chance against the team in search of history.

That year, Florida repeated its national championship run by acquiring Ohio State and Greg Oden.

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

UConn became just the second program this century to repeat as March Madness champions. AP
Zach Eddy walks off the court after Purdue's loss to UConn in the national championship. Good pictures

It did so in spectacular fashion: with three new starters and by running this NCAA tournament like a series of scrimmages.

Purdue and Zach Eddy hung with the overall lead until one half, but the Big Ten champion had no chance when coach Don Hurley's team turned up the intensity.

Boilers don't have that extra gear.

The game didn't give up midway through the second half, and UConn won its sixth national championship 75-60 in front of 74,423 at State Farm Stadium.

UConn earned its second consecutive championship with Monday's win over Purdue. AP

Defeating all six of their opponents in the tournament by double figures, by an average of 23.3 points, the Huskies matched last season's impressive run of dominance and claimed the Big East title for the fourth time in eight years.

“I think this is one of the best two-year runs any program has ever had,” Hurley said. “I can't say anything about Duke because it would hurt my brother. … It's more interesting to me than what Florida and Duke did because they brought their entire teams back. We lost some key players.

Hurley, a former high school coach at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark and son of legendary coach Bob Hurley Sr., became the third active coach with multiple titles β€” St. John's Rick Pitino and Kansas' Phil Self are the others.

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In nine postseason games, Connecticut beat St. John's by single digits once in the Big East Tournament semifinals.

Tristan Newton earned the Most Outstanding Player award following Monday's win over UConn. Good pictures

Edey started fast, but ran out of gas.

The national player of the year again finished with 37 points on 25 shots, but most were hollow.

When UConn took over early in the second half, he was quiet, slowed by Donovan Klingen.

“I want to play better,” Edey said. β€œIt's one of those games where I'm not productive. 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 Monday's win. Good pictures

The Connecticut (37-3) guards, meanwhile, had their way with their slower, smaller and less athletic Boilermaker counterparts, and the game continued.

It's a mismatch in the backcourt, future NBA players against good college guards.

UConn's trio of Tristan Newton, Cam Spencer and Stephen Castle outscored Fletcher Lower, Braden Smith and Lance Jones 46-17, overwhelming them with length and burst.

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

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

UConn's game plan allowed the Klingon to guard one-on-one and control everyone else by letting Edey get to him.

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

“We've played against athletes, we've played against some good defenses this year and in the tournament, but not a collection of defenses like UConn's,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We play against somebody and they have a lockdown defender. These guys bring lockdown defenders off the bench.

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The first half felt much like Saturday when Alabama played its “A” game, did everything right and trailed at halftime.

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

It still trailed by six at halftime, and Connecticut pulled away after the break.

Giving Klingen a change, Samson Johnson scored on consecutive alley-oop dunks to extend the lead to 13.

After Eddy answered with four straight points, Connecticut pulled away with consecutive baskets by Spencer and Newton.

That was still a 13-point lead and 11:31 left in the college basketball season.

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

But, in fact, it is no longer doubtful.

Connecticut fans, in large numbers throughout the evening, cheered and made their voices heard.

With 36 seconds left, Hurley inserted his son Andrew into the game and cleared the bench.

For the 12th time in the past two years, Andrew ran out the clock in an NCAA tournament game.

Hurley hugged his starters and waved for Huskies fans to get louder.

The college basketball world was back-to-back champions for the first time in 17 years β€” and Connecticut made it look easy.

But the more serious Hurley was not completely satisfied – he planned to break the list next year on the plane home.

“St, we're going to try to replicate that,” he said. “I don't think we're going anywhere.”

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