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The keys that won UConn the 2024 men’s national championship


GLENDALE, Ariz. — UConn has done it. The Huskies repeated as national champions with a convincing 75-60 victory over Purdue. Coach Dan Hurley’s team is the first reigning champion to defend its title successfully since Florida won back-to-back championships under Billy Donovan in 2006 and 2007.

The much anticipated clash of the big men lived up to its billing. Zach Edey put up his usual impressive numbers for the Boilermakers: 37 points to go with 10 rebounds. Even so, Donovan Clingan guarded Edey straight up and enabled his teammates to stay on Purdue’s perimeter shooters.

With this loss for the Boilermakers, the Big Ten’s streak now stands at 24 years and counting since Michigan State won a title for the conference in 2000. Over that span, the Big Ten is 0-8 in national title games.

ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss, John Gasaway and Myron Medcalf break down what made the difference for UConn and where the Huskies go from here.

What was the key to UConn’s win?

With UConn in 2024, you have to point at keys, plural. The Huskies out-Purdued Purdue in terms of getting more shots. They didn’t turn the ball over at all and crashed their offensive glass. Tristen Newton showed no fear of Edey in attacking the paint repeatedly. Most of all, UConn’s defense stayed on Purdue’s shooters. Edey scored from the field, but he didn’t get to the line, Purdue didn’t get its usual share of second chances and there was only one made 3. — Gasaway

What surprised you the most about this game?

How well Connecticut took away Purdue’s 3-point game. We heard after UConn beat Alabama in the semifinals how well the Huskies ran Bama off the 3-point line.

They did it again Monday night. Purdue attempted 15 or more 3s in the first five games of the NCAA tournament — including shooting 20 or more in three of them — but shot just seven and made just one against the Huskies. Purdue couldn’t figure out a way to get its 3-point shooters open, whether through designed plays or off Edey’s post-ups. — Weinfuss

Who was the most outstanding player?

It’s hard to argue against UConn guard Tristen Newton. He turned in a balanced game, finishing with 20 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists while playing the most minutes of any Huskies player. He kick-started UConn’s run in the second half with a 3 that extended the lead to nine and later assisted on two huge alley-oops to Samson Johnson as the Huskies extended their lead. Newton, playing in his graduate year, was perfect from the line, and his two 3s were the most for any UConn player. — Weinfuss

What was another key X factor?

This was the Fairleigh Dickinson defense all over again, only this time it was UConn’s version. Last year when the Knights stunned Purdue in the round of 64, they focused on the rest of the team beyond Edey. The Huskies followed the same approach and pulled it off beautifully. This was a two-point game with two minutes remaining in the first half. From that point on, however, UConn was in control. Purdue is a No. 1 seed that entered the game 34-4. Yet even here, there was a feeling that sooner or later the Huskies would have their way. They did. — Gasaway

What was the turning point?

Purdue was able to keep the game within striking distance for the first four minutes and change of the second half even though Edey missed a key jumper and a dunk and had a crucial turnover. Then with 15:23 left, Newton lofted an alley-oop to Johnson, who flushed it. Then, 43 seconds later, the same thing happened again, putting UConn up by 13. By then, the air was already coming out of the Boilermakers, who got within nine on four straight points by Edey but couldn’t get back into single digits after that. — Weinfuss

What will be the legacy of Purdue?

Purdue will be remembered as an excellent team that lost to a great team in the national title game. And there is no shame in that. The Boilermakers won 34 games during the 2023-24 season, and Edey will soon collect his second Wooden Award. He and his teammates finished the season as a top-three squad in 3-point shooting and top-15 in defensive efficiency, a pair of marks that helped this program advance to the national championship for the first time since 1969. But the Boilermakers ran into a UConn squad that will be remembered as one of the greatest college basketball teams of the past 25 years. — Medcalf


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