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UConn leads Purdue in second half of 2024 NCAA championship


UConn has blown through the NCAA Tournament again to reach college basketball’s final night, this time with a chance to claim the first repeat championship in 17 years.

The final test is facing a Purdue team that spent an entire season proving it had recovered from one of the rarest of NCAA Tournament upsets.

“It speaks to the credit of what the coaching staff does — they’ve constructed a beautiful team, as we see,” UConn forward Alex Karaban said.

“They made sure the returners, we weren’t complacent, that we wanted to leave a legacy,” Karaban added. “And for the new guys, they’re hungrier than ever. … To be one win away against a really good Purdue team, it’s going to be a battle and we know that. And it’s going to take everything to make sure that we make history.”

UConn entered the tournament ranked No. 1 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency by averaging 126.6 points per 100 possessions, while its defense ranked 11th at 94.4 points allowed per 100 possessions. Purdue was ranked fourth offensively (125.0) and 21st defensively (95.9).

The Huskies (36-3) won their fifth championship last season, winning six straight games by at least 13 points each time. And in a been-here-before moment, UConn earned its title-game ticket by beating the Alabama Crimson Tide 86-72 for its closest margin thus far in this year’s tournament and its 11th straight tournament win dating to last year.

One more win would put this year’s No. 1 overall tournament seed in rare company, making it the first team to win a repeat NCAA men’s title since Florida did it in 2006 and 2007. It would also make the Huskies only the third team to do so since UCLA’s run of seven straight championships under John Wooden from 1967 to 1973, the other being Duke in 1991 and 1992 under Mike Krzyzewski.

“It’s a great feeling,” AP All-America guard Tristen Newton said. “Like you said, not many teams can do this. But we feel like we can make history and win the whole thing.”


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