UConn loves Texas: 4 of 5 NCAA tournaments won by Huskies claimed in Lone Star State

ByCanaan Cadwell KTRK logo
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
UConn does it again in Texas: 4 of 5 NCAA titles won in Lone Star State
The 2023 NCAA champions, UConn Huskies, are no strangers to the surroundings where they won their latest tournament title.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- History tends to repeat itself.

Well, that was the case for the UConn Huskies after their season came to an end in Houston.

The Huskies (31-8) are now the 2023 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament national champions after knocking off the San Diego State Aztecs on Monday night at NRG Stadium.

In 2011, UConn was crowned champions of the college basketball world at then-Reliant Stadium. The Huskies have won the NCAA tournament five times since 1999, which is the most by any men's college basketball program since that year.

Long before Huskies star Adama Sanogo and head coach Dan Hurley, there was Kemba Walker and former head coach Jim Calhoun.

Calhoun won three NCAA tournaments in 1999 and 2004 in San Antonio, and the third in Houston in 2011. Calhoun was in the stands cheering on Hurley and celebrated as the Huskies cut down the nets.

Altogether, four of the five titles were won in the state of Texas.

"There's nobody on that team that doesn't fit. There may be kids that might say, 'My role should be different.' Every championship team has role players that are stars in their role. Not everybody can be Denzel Washington or Tom Hanks. There's got to be other people to make a good movie. Everybody has to play their role," Calhoun said after the game.

UConn's 11-time NCAA-title-winning women's basketball head coach, Geno Auriemma, speaks with the media in Houston after the men's team captured the 2023 championship.

During the 2011 run, UConn also defeated San Diego State en route to the national championship in their only other meeting in tournament history. Walker had 36 points to lead the Huskies to a 74-67 win over Kawhi Leonard's Aztecs in the Sweet 16.

Now for this year's run, UConn had three Huskies in double-digits that combined for 52 of the team's 76 points scored against SDSU.

A few celebrities and former Huskies basketball players were in attendance, including actor Bill Murray, who's son is an assistant coach for UConn, Ray Allen, Rudy Gay, Grant Hill, Jim Nantz, and Emeka Okafor.

Sanogo finished with a double-double, posting 17 points and 10 rebounds, while winning the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament honors.

Very similar to Sanogo, Okafor, a former Huskies and Houston native, won the national championship in 2004.

Confetti flies over the NRG Stadium court after UConn took down San Diego State in the 2023 NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship game.

"It's all about the big. The more solid your bigs are, the better your team," Okafor added.

Before the season, the Huskies were unranked and Hurley was missing one thing from his resume - an NCAA tournament win at UConn. He now joins Calhoun and Kevin Ollie, who won his title in 2014 in Arlington, as UConn's championship-winning head coaches.

"We knew we couldn't go out like suckers again in the first weekend. We also didn't wear that around the players. But we certainly felt it. We came into the season unranked, guess we had an edge to start the year and prove people wrong," Hurley said during the press conference after the title game.

UConn and San Diego State both came out hot until the Aztecs allowed a 14-2 run, which SDSU battled coming back from the entire game.

The Huskies defense didn't allow the Aztecs to score in 11 minutes of gameplay in the first half and were up double-digits entering the second half.

The Aztecs were able to stay in the game, thanks to going 10-of-11 from the free throw line in the second half. The Aztecs shot 75% from the line against UConn after shooting 59% in their Final Four matchup against Florida Atlantic University.

SDSU was able to make it a game but couldn't trim the lead within five points after going on a 9-0 run in the second half. The Huskies didn't allow a second-half comeback from the Aztecs and were able to cut down the nets after the game.

At the end of the day, the Huskies once again find their success in the city of Houston.

The Final Four will return to Texas but will be at the Alamodome in San Antonio in 2025. In 2030, the site will be at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.