Home people Top-seeded UConn advances to championship game after beating No. 4 Alabama, 86-72

Top-seeded UConn advances to championship game after beating No. 4 Alabama, 86-72


GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — UConn kept its bid to repeat as national champion intact by surviving its first true test of the NCAA Tournament, getting 21 points from freshman Stephon Castle while clamping down defensively in the second half of an 86-72 win over Alabama in the Final Four on Saturday night.

The top-seeded Huskies (36-3) had put on a March Madness show before arriving in the desert, a stretch that included a 30-0 run in a decimation of Illinois in the Elite Eight.

This was more of a slow burn, with UConn withstanding an early wave of three-pointers before holding the Crimson Tide (25-12) without a field goal during a five-minute second-half stretch.

Next up for the Huskies will be what should be a much more physical test against 7-foot-4, 300-pound Zach Edey and Purdue in Monday’s national championship game. They have their own accomplished big man in 7-foot-2 Donovan Clingan, who finished with 18 points and four blocked shots.

Survive that matchup, and UConn will be the first repeat national champion since Florida in 2006-07.

The Huskies’ Final Four win certainly wasn’t as easy as the final score indicated.

Alabama held its own in the program’s first Final Four appearance, going toe to toe with a team that trailed 28 total seconds its first four NCAA Tournament games.

Crafty point guard Mark Sears did his best to keep Alabama in it, scoring 24 points. Grant Nelson had another big game in March Madness, finishing with 19 points, 15 rebounds and one highlight-reel dunk over Clingan.

Even that wasn’t enough against a UConn team that’s among the most efficient at both ends of the floor.

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