The UConn Huskies (24-10) completed a great run through the American Athletic Conference tournament with a decisive 72-58 win over the Memphis Tigers (19-15).
The Huskies dominated the action from the start. They jumped out to a 20-7 lead with 9:26 to go in the first half and never looked back. It was an impressive performance that capped off an amazing weekend for head coach Kevin Ollie.
“It was just a great game,” Ollie said. “Guys really played hard. They deserved this championship. We did a lot of things in the off-season to create this momentum and just continue to pull each other together.”
Memphis could never get it’s footing in the first half and foul trouble by senior wing Trahson Burrell held them at bay going into the break.
The beginning second half was a different story for the Tigers, though. After the Huskies lead ballooned to 16 early in the half, the Tigers turned up the pressure and cut the lead to 40-36 by 11:43.
From there, timely three-point shooting by the Huskies helped grow the lead to as many as 17.
“They hit some tough threes. You’ve got to give them credit,” said Memphis head coach Josh Pastner. “[Senior guard Sterling] Gibbs hit that big three coming out of that timeout. That was a big shot.”
Senior transfers Sterling Gibbs and Shonn Miller led the Huskies with 13 points a piece. Freshman forward Dedric Lawson led the Tigers with 21.
Now UConn turns its attention to the NCAA tournament where it will be a No. 9 seed in the region and face No. 8 Colorado on Thursday in Des Moines.
“I told y’all this. I got the best coaching staff in America,” Ollie said. “They’re going to break down the tape. I’m going to be right in the war room with them.
“We’re going to probably pull a couch in there and probably pull a couple all-nighters and get ready for Colorado,” he continued. “Hopefully we can get through that one.”
Other American teams joining UConn in the tournament are Tulsa, Temple and Cincinnati.
Tulsa is headed to Dayton to play in the play in game vs. Michigan where the winner will the No. 11 seed in the East vs. Notre Dame.
Temple will join UConn in the South as the No. 10 seed where it will face off against Iowa.
Cincinnati will head west as it will be that region’s No. 9 seed against Saint Joseph’s.