UConn cruises past Miami for spot in national championship game
UConn will face San Diego State in the national championship game on Monday after dispatching Miami Saturday night at the Final Four, 72-59.
The 4-seed Huskies dominated inside and controlled things for most of the game to send 5-seed Miami home. UConn never trailed, and the game was only tied for a total of 38 seconds.
Everything that looked dangerous about UConn’s matchup with the Hurricanes proved to be lethal. The never-ending action on offense that was going to force Miami to defend ball screens all over the floor — something it is not particularly good at. The presence of Adama Sanogo inside. The constant threat of Husky bigs crashing the offensive glass.
Nothing worked for the Hurricanes.
Sanogo was undeniable. He finished with 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting to go with 10 rebounds. He scored 8 of UConn’s first 11 points. His first two makes were from beyond the 3-point line — a remarkable sight considering he entered the day averaging an attempt from 3 every 20 minutes on the floor. He had 17 makes all season, and had 2 in the first 3:06 of Saturday’s Final Four contest.
The Huskies had a 9-0 lead right out of the gates. They were up 10 just over 6 minutes into the game. A triple from Nijel Pack with 8:20 to play in the opening frame tied the game at 19-all before UConn closed on an 18-5 spurt to go into the half up double-digits. A 3 from Alex Karaban at the buzzer made it 37-24.
Miami shot 25% from the field while UConn hit at a 50% clip. The 24 points were the fewest in a first half all season.
And then UConn opened the second half on a 9-2 run — again fueled by tone-setting early buckets from Sanogo — and the lead ballooned to 20.
But Miami would not go down without a fight. The Canes turned UConn over 3 times in 4 possessions down the floor to ignite a 14-5 run. Minutes later, a 3 from Isaiah Wong got the margin down to 8.
UConn immediately answered with a 7-0 run of its own.
Miami never got the margin back under 10. Too much ground to make up. Too much Sanogo.
Wong led the way with 15 points on 4-of-10 shooting. He made all 5 of his foul shots from the charity stripe. Jordan Miller added 11. That was it in terms of double-digit scorers for the Hurricanes. Pack was held to 8 points on 3-of-10 shooting. Wooga Poplar was held scoreless on 0-of-7 shooting. Norchad Omier had 8 on 8 shots, 7 boards, and 4 fouls.
The Hurricanes finished shooting 32% from the field, just the 4th time since the calendar flipped to 2023 that they shot sub-40% in a game. UConn had 6 more turnovers than Miami, and the 3-point shooting wasn’t overly tilted, but UConn was able to keep the Hurricane offense out of rhythm for long stretches of the game.
Monday’s championship game is set for tip-off at 9:20 p.m. ET on CBS.