10 crazy facts that define UConn’s run through the NCAA Tournament

The No. 1 UConn men’s basketball team continued to make NCAA Tournament history as it advanced to a second-straight Final Four with a runaway 77-52 win over No. 3 Illinois in the Elite Eight on Saturday.

Dan Hurley’s Huskies advanced to Phoenix, where they will meet No. 4 Alabama in the Final Four for a chance to play in the national championship for the second straight year. No program has won back-to-back national titles since Florida in 2006 and 2007, and only two have accomplished the feat since UCLA in 1973, when only 25 teams were in the field.

Here are 10 eye-opening facts that have defined UConn’s NCAA Tournament dominance:

Saturday’s 30-0 run was the best in program history since a 32-0 start against New Hampshire in Dec. 1990.

The Elite Eight blitz was the first “triple kill shot” in any men’s Division I game in over three years, according to Evan Miyakawa, who defines a “kill shot” as a 10-0 scoring run.

Cam Spencer’s double-double was the first in his 130-game career.

The graduate guard had six rebounds in each half to finish with a career-high 12, he also had 11 points, five assists two blocks and a steal. Spencer’s previous career-high in rebounds was nine, which came against Lehigh on Feb. 20, 2022, in his third season at Loyola Maryland. His career-high nine assists came against St. John’s in the Big East Tournament semifinal.

Saturday’s win improved UConn to 35-3 on the year, setting a new program record for wins.

The previous mark of 34 was set in 1998-99 under Jim Calhoun. UConn was 34-2 that year and also won the Big East regular season and the Big East Tournament on its way to the program’s first national championship.

UConn held Illinois’ second-ranked offense to a season-low 52 points.

Ranked the second-best offense in the nation behind UConn entering Saturday’s meeting, Illinois’ previous scoring low was 64, coming twice against Marquette and Oakland in its second and third games of the season.

Illinois was 0-for-19 when challenging Donovan Clingan, Terrence Shannon Jr. scored four points with Stephon Castle in the game.

Clingan was named the East Region’s Most Outstanding Player after his 22 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and three steals against the Illini. Castle was named to the All-Region team after helping to hold Shannon, averaging 28.3 points over the first three rounds of the tournament and 23.5 on the season, to a season-low eight points on 2-for-12 from the field.

UConn has won 46 consecutive games when leading at halftime.

The Huskies are 32-0 when leading at the half this year and have not blown a halftime lead since Jan. 18, 2023, in a 67-66 road loss to Seton Hall last year. Without Hurley and associate head coach Kimani Young, who each missed the game with Covid, UConn led 40-26 at the half in that game.

The Huskies have only trailed for 28 seconds over four NCAA Tournament games.

All 28 seconds came in the first four minutes and 10 seconds of the national championship rematch against San Diego State in the Sweet 16, which UConn won, 82-52.

UConn has won 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament games by double digits.

This is a new NCAA Tournament record, surpassing Michigan State’s previous record nine from 2000-01. UConn has won every one of its tournament games in the last two seasons by at least 13 points.

First reigning national champion since Florida won consecutive titles in 2006-07 to get back to Final Four.

No reigning champ had made it past the Sweet 16 since Billy Donovan’s Gators won consecutive titles. UConn looks to become the eighth program to ever win consecutive national titles since the NCAA Tournament debuted in 1939.

Alabama will be the 12th team in NCAA Tournament history to make its Final Four debut against the reigning champs.

The teams making their debut are 0-11, losing by an average of 15.3 points per game.