UConn keeps San Diego State at bay to win their fifth national title since 1999.
Connecticut has won five men’s basketball championships in the last 25 years.
The Huskies took advantage of a drought in the first half in San Diego State to pull ahead and then held on in the second half with a 76-59 victory in the national title game on Monday night. The title is the first for UConn coach Dan Hurley and the first for the school since 2014.
Tristen Newton scored 19 points, Adama Sanogo scored 17 and Jordan Hawkins scored 16 for the Huskies. Sanogo also grabbed 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the tournament and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
San Diego State took the lead very early and led 10-8 before the first TV timeout. From that point on, things got brutal for the Aztecs as they went over 11 minutes without a field goal until Darrion Trammell fired an alley shot with 5:25 left before the break cut UConn’s lead to nine at 26-17.
The Huskies then took a 16-point lead shortly after Trammell’s jumper in front of San Diego State cut the lead to 36–24 at half.
It was incredibly obvious how lucky San Diego State was, only a dozen points behind in the first half. The Aztecs shot 29% from the field and scored eight field goals and nine assists in the first 20 minutes. Even Hurley admitted in his CBS halftime interview that UConn should have gone up 20 by halftime given how the game played out for the Aztecs.
UConn’s advantage in the interior was clear from the start of the game, as Sanogo, Donovan Klingan, and the rest of the team upset the Aztecs at the ring.
UConn is number two. 4 seeds to win the title
“Husky” is just the second racket of the world. 4 seeds to win the NCAA tournament since the selection committee began seeding teams in 1985. The fourth team to win the title before Monday night was Arizona in 1997.
UConn (31-8) was probably under-seeded at #1.4 in the West Region and showed how good he is throughout the tournament. UConn’s narrowest margin of victory in the entire tournament came Saturday against Miami, and even that was a comfortable 13-point win to advance to the title game.
The Huskies were seeded outside the top 12 overall due to a tough game in the Big East in early 2023. UConn has lost five out of six since December. from 31 to 18 January and lost again, breaking a three-game losing streak on 22 January.
“We knew what level we could play even in those dark times,” Hurley said after the game.
All eight of UConn’s losses have come to Big East opponents, and his eight losses to conference rivals are the most by any champion since UConn won the title in 2011 after losing nine Big East games.
This 2011 title was UConn’s third under former coach Jim Calhoun and third in school history. The school first appeared in 1999 when UConn beat Duke to win the national championship. UConn then won the title again in 2004.
San Diego State didn’t quit
Although the Aztecs were down by double figures for most of the second half, they didn’t quit. They continued to give themselves glimmers of hope as UConn just couldn’t make the game a breakthrough and even cut the lead to six with 7:40 left thanks to a 9-0 lead and reduced the lead to five with just over five minutes left. go.
However, as soon as SDSU (32-7) cut the score to five, Hawkins fired a three-pointer from the top of the arc.
It wouldn’t be a total shock if San Diego State could complete a comeback against the Huskies. After all, this is the same SDSU team that was 14 points behind the Florida Atlantic on Saturday before beating Lamont Butler and also needed comebacks to beat Alabama and Creighton last weekend.
But UConn also never felt receptive to high mileage, and the Aztecs didn’t feel capable of making more push than they did. The Huskies always had an answer for SDSU and were on the bonus for much of the second half after SDSU was whistled for seven quick fouls in the opening minutes of the second half.
Hawkins 3 was also the beginning of the end for the Aztecs. It was a 9-0 series start in the closing minutes that returned the Husky’s lead back to double figures and destroyed any chance of another SDSU comeback.
From Tiger and Phil to sleeping picks, here’s everything you need to know
The first Major of the year is here, and the expectation for this year’s Masters couldn’t be higher.
Between the return of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the first meeting of LIV Golf and PGA Tour players at the Augusta National Golf Club, and Scotty Sheffler, John Rahm and Rory McIlroy continuing to play hot potatoes from No. 1.1 in the world rankings, there are many exciting storylines as the world of golf descends on the sport’s most famous venue.
Here’s what to expect in Georgia this week:
What can we expect from Tiger this week?
Mark Schlabach: Last year, Tiger did not play in competition for 508 days, but appeared at the Masters and received his 23rd straight cut. He played well on the first 36 holes, but cold weather overtook his surgically reconstructed right leg and back, making one of the toughest walks in all of golf even more challenging. In each of the last two rounds, he scored 6 over 78, which was his worst result at the Masters. Physically, he looked better on the Genesis and said his right leg is stronger than a year ago, but his right ankle still worries him. I think he will cut again because he knows the track better than anyone else in the area. I think it’s possible for Tiger to be in the top 25, but I find it hard to believe he can do better.
Paolo Uggetti: Considering what we saw on the Riviera where Tiger looked a little more comfortable walking while his game showed a lot of promise, I think the cut would be a low bar that he should be able to overcome. In an ideal world, the five-time champion would need to play at least one more game before arriving at the Masters, but health is more important than keeping his game sharp. If Tiger can succeed anywhere with just one competitive tournament under his belt, it’s Augusta. Even if the walk is harder than most routes, the warmer weather should help him and I dare say he will have an early start on Thursday and a long break before the second round on Friday. I will not say that he will fight, but this should be another promising step in the new phase of his career.
What can we expect from Phil this week?
Schlabach: Considering how Mickelson played in the majors last year and what he did in the first three LIV Golf tournaments this season, finishing 27th in Mexico, 32nd in Tucson, Arizona, and 41- If it’s in Orlando, Florida, I wouldn’t expect much. He doesn’t play very well, and he hasn’t played in a long time, and there will be a circus around him in Augusta. Mickelson will not be speaking to the media at the official press conference until Thursday’s Masters, so he will be closely watched during practice and the opening rounds after missing the three-time tournament in 2022. There will still be patrons who will root for him.
Uggetti: I honestly have no idea. Mickelson has looked like a shell of himself – literally and figuratively – ever since he left for the LIV, and his performance at last year’s US Open (the last major he competed in) was particularly poor. Since being eliminated from that tournament, Mickelson has shown absolutely no signs of life in any of the LIV tournaments, consistently finishing near the bottom of the leaderboard. He finished 27th or worse in eight of his 10 matches. On the other hand, Mickelson is a past winner here and it would be some dark twist to the whole PGA Tour-LIV Golf saga if he somehow turned back the clock and made it this week.
Speaking of the PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf, how much of the animosity will be on display?
Schlabach: I don’t think it will be as much of a storyline as expected because everyone will be doing their best at the Augusta National. LIV Golf players will likely wear their team logos on their jerseys and caps, so the elephant in the room won’t be completely invisible. I just don’t know how many of the 18 members of LIV Golf will be real contenders. Cameron Smith of Australia, who finished second in 2020 and third last year, has played well here. However, he hasn’t played much this season and his form hasn’t been very good lately, finishing 26th in Tucson and 29th in Orlando. Past champions Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reid also played little. Brooks Koepka won the Orlando tournament and suddenly got better. Since the LIV Golf League puts so much emphasis on team competition, let’s go! — can they just flip the switch and go back to individual play? And finish 72 holes? However, there is a chance that one or two of them will be on the leaderboard on Sunday.
Uggetti: It all depends, but I think it will depend on the results of the tournament and what the players on the podium say. The pairings and dinner of champions will certainly draw attention to it, but I think that once the tournament starts, the only way it will be part of the history of the weekend is if the LIV players compete. With 18 LIV players on the field, this is a big deal and it will be interesting to see how Augusta, the patrons and the rest of the players react to the potential of a LIV player to win the biggest tournament in the sport.
Who is your dark horse choice for the week?
Schlabach: It’s probably not too much of an exaggeration to say that the guy who finished second in his first Masters appearance and tied for eighth in his third would be a dark horse, but I’m not sure too many people choose Sungjae Im. to win the green jacket this week. In 2020, the South Korean became the first Asian player to finish second, and two years later he was leading in the first round. They’ve won twice on the tour and I love playing in the Augusta National. I don’t hit the ball particularly far from the tee, but he keeps it on the fairway and has solid all-around play.
Uggetti: It feels like every major tournament these days will be won by either Scheffler or McIlroy or Rahm, making it hard to find a surprise winner outside of them. I’ll take Jason Day. He’s clearly moving in the right direction – five times in the top 10 in the last six tournaments and 11 in the top 20 this season – and the changes he’s made seem to be paying dividends. Day hasn’t made it into the last two Masters events he’s played in, but he finished in the top five in 2019. way back to the beginning of the game.
Who are you sure you won’t pick this week?
Schlabach: Patrick Cantley is one of the best players in the world, especially with a driver. But his performance in major championships, to put it mildly, is bewildering. He has only one top-five finish in major tournaments — third at the 2019 PGA Championships — and one top-10 finish at the Masters — ninth in 2019. The lights will go out for Kantley. at some point, and he’s going to fight for a major championship. I just don’t think it will be this week.
Uggetti: Will Zalatoris. In hindsight, this might seem like a poor choice given that Zalatoris proved to be the supremely better player playing in the majors, but whether it was injury or trouble, Zalatoris has struggled this season. After placing 11th at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Zalatoris finished 36th and missed cutback before finishing fourth at the Riviera. However, in the last three tournaments, Zalatoris has finished in 53rd, 73rd and 59th places. Even more devastatingly, Zalatoris is ranked 137th in hits scored a year after finishing 103rd in the same statistic last season.
Was this Lamar Jackson ‘fake agent’ drama about home gym marketing?
There have been some incredible twists and turns in the Lamar Jackson saga, but nothing beats everything that happened Thursday night. Earlier this week, there were reports that someone was contacting teams on Jackson’s behalf and the person was not an agent registered with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). On Thursday, we may have learned their name, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Until that point, Jackson had mostly represented himself. The CBA allows players to negotiate on their own, but if someone else is involved in the negotiation process, they must be a registered agent with the NFLPA. This is a guarantee that players are protected from outside parties that may benefit financially from a player contract without regard to the player’s best interests.
There were rumors that it could be Saint Omni, the elusive NFL middleman who worked for Rokuan Smith a year ago and was recently attached to Laremi Tunsil, as well as several other players. Omni is not a licensed NFLPA agent, but has a history of getting involved in complex contract negotiations only to have them resolved within days.
Turns out Lamara didn’t represent Omni, and this is where things get a lot weirder. On Thursday evening The NFLPA sent out a memo to the teams instructing them not to do business with “Ken Francis”. stating that Francis was working on Jackson’s behalf and any proposal sheet attached to Francis’s entry could be invalidated.
Immediately, people started asking who Ken Francis was. This is the name that has never already been mentioned in NFL circles, not to mention that he was associated with one of the most famous quarterbacks in the NFL. Francis’ now-deleted LinkedIn profile listed him as the CEO of The Entire Gym in Florida. a portable home trainer with a connected Bluetooth speaker, and why not?
While people were trying to figure out how and why this man contacted NFL teams about Jackson, the quarterback himself on Twitter denied that Ken Francis was acting on his behalf.
At this point, things got really weird. The NFLPA wouldn’t have named Francis if they didn’t have evidence that he contacted the teams about Jackson. I mean, they didn’t randomly pick a name and tell the teams not to discuss Lamar with that person. So was Ken Francis a fraudulent actor? Lamar caught by a fake agent? Did Jackson really have no idea who this man was? The possibilities were endless, but in the end, the real answer turned out to be far weirder than anyone could have expected when Jackson posted it later.
So, Ken Francis, CEO of The Entire Gym, who told the NFLPA teams not to talk to him, not only knows Lamar, but is business partners in the workout equipment itself. Jackson, turning all the attention to Ken as a marketing opportunity, took the opportunity to release a teaser for “The Entire Gym”, saying it would be out “this summer”.
Okay, what the hell is going on?
Your guess is as good as any, but at the moment there are only three possibilities:
No. 1: It was all a misunderstanding
Admittedly, this sounds very implausible, but there is a chance that the teams did not understand why Francis contacted them. Imagine for a moment if he called to discuss “Entire Gym” and mentioned that he was partnered with Lamar Jackson. It’s entirely possible to imagine a team suggesting he’s lending a helping hand to Jackson and his contract rather than cross trainer promotion. This could move the whole thing off the ground.
No. 2: Lamar Jackson and Ken Francis got caught
Contract negotiations with the NFL are difficult and emotionally draining. There’s a reason players use agents or intermediaries, and it’s to shield themselves from difficult conversations about player longevity, performance ceilings, and teams’ legitimate concerns about whether or not to give a player a huge amount of money for long-term financial health. their balance. It’s entirely possible that Jackson, who had a prior business relationship with Francis, had him contact the teams on his behalf – not really knowing it was a big deal. The duo have been caught and are now trying to retreat.
No. 3: This whole mess was just viral marketing for “Total Gym”.
This is both the wildest scenario and seems the most likely. This would mean that Ken Francis’ contact with the teams was a pre-arranged plan for Lamar to get his name trending. Then, when things were in full swing, they released the “Entire Gym” trailer to get people interested.
Oddly enough, no one knew until Thursday night that Lamar Jackson was involved with The Whole Gym. They are doing now. It seems mind-bogglingly stupid to jeopardize an NFL contract negotiation over equipment marketing, but we’ve seen stranger things in the past.
Heck, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a mix of NFL and weird foods.
Timme and Strouter ensure Gonzaga’s rejuvenation season continues
The Bulldogs used even more March magic to win another Gonzaga-UCLA classic.
Gonzaga and UCLA, having already played two of the most iconic games in NCAA tournament history against each other, added another chapter to the history of the two programs clashing in a thrilling 79-76 Bulldogs victory. After Gonzaga extended from 13 before the break to take a 10-point lead with less than three minutes left, he conceded the lead in the final seconds before Julian Strouter’s deep three sent the Bulldogs into the elite eight.
Longtime Villanova coach Jay Wright may have retired in the offseason, but his fingerprints were all over the game’s defining possession. The play Gonzaga drew to match the season was “Wright’s play” as Few said, the same design Villanova used to get Chris Jenkins into the open three he did to win the 2017 national championship. Hunter Sallis was supposed to throw the ball up the floor with Strouter following and then passing it back to the junior shooter. In the crowd, the play was triggered by Strouter catching and heading for the rim.
i was just asking [Few], for example: “Can I shoot him? If no one attacks me, do you want me to shoot him?” Strouter said. “He’s like, ‘Absolutely.
The play worked exactly as planned. UCLA freshman quarterback Dylan Andrews pulled back in an attempt to thwart Sallis while leaving Strouter wide open for a deep three. Without hesitation, and without input from 36-pointer Drew Timm, the Las Vegas native lifted the ball and shot at goal in his hometown.
“We should have been tougher on Strother. We were all in the game. We just weren’t in that game,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said.
It’s been seventeen years since UCLA came back late to shock Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 in a game most famous for the tears shed after the game by Bulldogs star Adam Morrison, the game’s ending sequences became awfully similar to the one that was 6 205 days ago. Gonzaga led 71–62 with 3:26 left in 2006, 72–62 with 2:40 left in 2023. Everything had to go right to get UCLA back in the game, and for a few minutes it did. A pair of Jaime Jaquez Jr. three-pointers, a Gonzaga loss, and a pair of missed free throws by Timme set up an Amari Bailey trio that gave the Bruins the lead with 12 seconds left. After all the work Gonzaga had done to rally behind a big halftime deficit (including holding UCLA with just three points in a nearly 10-minute stretch in the second half), the Bulldogs were suddenly on the brink of a homecoming.
But then came the magic of the Gonzaga march, the same thing the Bulldogs had in the 2021 Final Four game when the Bruins won Jalen Suggs’ buzzer down. Strouter entered Gonzaga the same year as Suggs and is still friends with the Orlando Magic security guard. While Strouter’s three was more laidback than a run made by Suggs on his last breath, Strouter’s shot was another deep hit from behind the half field logo to bury the Bruins. And as the score became final, Strouter rushed to the media tables. For a second, he looked like he was ready to jump onto the courtside press tables, as Suggs had done in Indianapolis nearly two years earlier.
“Moments like this can’t be fixed,” Strouter said. “These are literally the moments you dream about.”
The main reason why Gonzaga was even able to take the belated win was Timme, who added another monstrous performance to his already impressive March portfolio. The senior, Gonzaga’s all-time leading scorer, feasted in the UCLA frontcourt, where there was no starting big man Adem Bona. Timme scored 15 of Gonzaga’s first 19 points and 36 points per game, the most by any player in the tournament so far. He had loud buckets (such as a physical punch to the chest of Kenneth Nwuba causing a stare on his return trip to defense) and quiet ones, but UCLA had few responses no matter what defensive cover he threw at him. He also helped lead the offensive glass in the second half as Gonzaga grabbed 14 offensive rebounds in the final 20 minutes for 18 second chance points. This helped the Bulldogs bounce back from a 46–33 halftime deficit, leading UCLA by 23 in the first 5:30 p.m. of the second half before chaos ensued on the stretch.
The Bulldogs are now 40 minutes away from the Final Four in a season that has been stuck in second gear for so long. This is the same Gonzaga team that lost to Texas and Purdue in November, struggled more than usual against their early WCC opponents and even suffered a shocking home loss to Loyola Marymount. But when Timme led the charge and Strouter was there with the tournament shot to date, Gonzaga got up from the mat.
“We’re tough bitches,” said the ever-quoted Timme. “We were in decline and people liked to just kick us and everyone was just trying to say, ‘Gonzaga stinks’, this, that.
“We just got up and continued to fight. We got up on our own, no one extended a hand to us. I had to get up myself. And I think it’s just a true testament to who we are [have] become.”
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