Miami viced: UConn continues magical run to title game with 72-59 win over Hurricanes
Published in Basketball
HOUSTON – No tournament opponent has been able to get within single digits of the UConn men’s basketball team. In a hard-fought Final Four battle against Miami on Saturday in Houston’s NRG Stadium, the Huskies prevailed, 72-59, to advance to the program’s fifth-ever national championship game on Monday night.
Adama Sanogo led the Huskies with a dominant 21-point, 10-rebound double-double on 9-of-11 shooting with a pair of blocks, while Jordan Hawkins scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half and made a trio of 3-pointers. Nahiem Alleyne provided a valuable eight points off the bench, while Alex Karaban scored eight of his own and Tristen Newton added six.
UConn will take on No. 5 seed San Diego State in the title game at 9:20 p.m. on CBS. The Aztecs beat No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic, 72-71, on a thrilling buzzer-beating mid-range shot from Lamont Butler in the first semifinal game on Saturday.
UConn won all four of its previous title chances (1999, 2004, 2011, 2014).
Hawkins let everyone in NRG Stadium know he was feeling OK from the get-go. The sophomore who was isolated at the team hotel Friday and missed the day’s Final Four events, started Saturday’s game and made a 3-pointer from the wing with the game’s first shot attempt.
Miami left Sanogo unguarded from the top of the key and the big man made the Hurricanes pay with a pair of rare 3s that gave the Huskies a 9-0 lead. The margin grew to 10 points before Miami fed off its defense to storm back and tie it at 19. UConn responded with a 13-2 run and Karaban beat the halftime buzzer yet again to put the Huskies up 37-24 at the break.
Even with Andre Jackson on the bench for 16 minutes in the first half with foul trouble, and Hawkins not scoring again since his initial 3-pointer, UConn held Miami to just 25% shooting in the first half and just 3-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc.
UConn’s lead extended to as many as 20 less than four minutes into the second half, but the Hurricanes again were able to force turnovers and used a 7-0 run over a 49-second span to cut the deficit down to 12 with 14:18 left in the game. Isaiah Wong, the superstar Miami point guard, made a pair of buckets that brought the score within eight, but Donovan Clingan collected an offensive rebound and laid it in, Hawkins hit another 3-pointer and Alleyne made a floater to push the UConn lead back out to 15.
With about seven minutes left, Jackson led the charge with the ball in transition, rose up and hammered the ball through the rim, making the converted football stadium his playground. The bucket, was his first of the game, but he hammered home another around the three-minute mark to put Miami away.
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