UConn has won its fourth national championship in men's basketball after defeating Kentucky, 60 to 54 in a close, yet wire to wire win. While it is their fourth championship in 15 seasons tied for fifth most out of all Division I schools, it is the first for Huskies head coach Kevin Ollie, who just completed his second year leading the program.
One of the stories around this game was that both the men's and women's teams could be winning national championships in the same year for the second time in school history, with the first time happening exactly ten years ago in 2004.
Among UConn's basketball teams, the team which would have a taller task to win its title was the men's team, where they've been an underdog for pretty much the entire NCAA tournament since they were a 7 seed. But at the end of the day, UConn is the last team standing in the men's tournament.
In the first half of the game, the Huskies, led by their senior point guard Shabazz Napier built up a quick 30-15 lead over the Wildcats, but Kentucky made a big run in the last five minutes, and trimmed it down to a four point game, only down 35-31 at halftime.
In the second half, UConn was never able to pull away and lead by more than seven as Kentucky managed to make another run to keep it really close. One such run started midway with Wildcat guard James Young making this highlight jam:
JAMES YOUNG SMASH http://t.co/vIiF4rjg7I— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) April 8, 2014
It's beautiful. http://t.co/VHXVgSngfq— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) April 8, 2014
But even when Kentucky made highlights like these and runs to keep the game close, UConn had an answer, almost always with Napier making or assisting on a bucket, and they never lost control of the game. If there's another stat to explain why the Wildcats lost, it was because of free throws. Kentucky only made 13-24 of their shots, while the Huskies made all ten of theirs. And then you have to consider that Kentucky had a team where freshmen were the team's biggest contributors, while UConn had a more experienced team.
The UConn Huskies women's basketball team plays Tuesday, April 8 at 8:30 p.m. ET against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship. Let's hope that tomorrow's game is also another close, entertaining, and great game like this one.
To follow more on the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, follow The UConn Blog for a Husky fan perspective, and A Sea of Blue for a Wildcat fan perspective. For a more neutral perspective, follow SB Nation's college basketball section.