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The University of Connecticut won its fifth men’s basketball national title With a 76-59 win over San Diego State University on Monday night at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Senior guard Tristan Newton led UConn (31–8) with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Final Four Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo, a junior forward, finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
“We weren’t ranked going into the year so we had a chip on our shoulder,” UConn head coach Dan Hurley told game broadcaster CBS. “We knew the level at which we could play, even in those dark times,” referring to the team six losses in eight games during the regular season.
He said going into the tournament had given his group confidence during the season.
“And when you have leaders like Andre Jackson (game-high six assists Monday) and Adama Sanogo, they put this team together, got us back on track and we knew we were the best team going into the tournament and We just had to play at our level.
San Diego State (32-7) was topped by Keshad Johnson, who had 14 points.
UConn fell behind early but San Diego State came undone with an 11-minute, eight-second stretch in which they made just five free throws and missed 12 consecutive shots from the field. The Huskies went down 10–6 to make it 36–24 at halftime.
The Aztecs scored a run midway through the second half to cut the deficit to five at 60–55 with 5:19 left, but the Huskies scored the next nine runs to take a comfortable lead in the final two minutes.
“We fought. Brian Dutcher, coach of San Diego State, came back from five in the second half, but gave them too much isolation. “We had to do our best. We weren’t at our best. UConn had a lot to do with that.”
Senior guard Adam Seiko told reporters that he gave himself a chance with his second half comeback but UConn “just made a little more play” in the end.
“He has a lot of weapons. He was very good,” said Matt Bradley, also a senior guard. “We had to make shots to beat them. I made a bad shot. And you have to have a really good game to beat those dudes on the offensive end.
UConn won each of its six tournament games by at least 10 points, with its closest game being a 13-point victory over the University of Miami in the national semifinals.
“I just want to thank my teammates, my coaches who believed in me. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here now,” Sanogo told CBS.
“I mean it’s absolutely amazing that we both got this opportunity and I mean the family reunion is going to be great so that’s all I know,” he said.
UConn enters rarefied air as only the sixth team to win five NCAA men’s basketball championships, joining UCLA (11), Kentucky (eight), North Carolina (six), Duke (five) and Indiana (five). All of Yukon’s titles have come since 1999 and the most recent came in 2014, the Monday before.
UConn’s women’s teams have won 11 basketball national titles.