Connecticut vs. San Diego State men's national championship game recap: Huskies win fifth title

The No. 4 Connecticut Huskies won their fifth national title Monday, beating the No. 5 San Diego State Aztecs 76-59 in Houston.

UConn has been dominant throughout the tournament, winning each of its games by double digits.

Meanwhile, the Aztecs have lived on the edge. They knocked off Florida Atlantic in the Final Four thanks to a buzzer-beater, go-ahead basket.

Here are updates from throughout the men's national title game:

UConn wins national championship 

Tristen Newton had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Adama Sanogo, who was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, added 17 points and 10 rebounds as UConn concluded its dominant NCAA tournament by holding off San Diego State 76-59 to win its fifth national championship on Monday night.

The Aztecs dug themselves into a hole in the first half, shooting 29 percent and trailing by 12 at halftime.

They continued to be down double digits until the Aztecs got the lead down to six with a 9-0 run with eight minutes left.

Still, the Aztecs were down by only five when Jordan Hawkins, who finished with 16 points, hit a three-pointer at the top of the key three minutes later as the Huskies put the game out of reach with their own 9-0 spurt to push the lead back to 14.

Keshad Johnson had 14 points for San Diego State, who shot only 33 percent and were making their first appearance in the national championship game.

UConn continues to clamp down on San Diego State

The Huskies have maintained a double-digit lead through the first 10 minutes of the second half. UConn has a 49-36 lead at the under 12-minute media timeout.

San Diego State continues to build its own house of bricks, with the inability to find the rim on the outside or handle UConn's length inside.

The Aztecs have only 12 field goals and four assists through the first 30 minutes of the game.

Local burger chain to give Huskies free food for a year if they win national championship

The UConn Huskies are hungry for a win and Wayback Burgers wants to feed them. The Connecticut-based chain is offering the men's basketball team food for a year if they take home the national title.

Each member of the team will receive a free order of a burger, fries and shake every week for a year, according to a press release from Wayback Burgers.

“We’re big fans of Connecticut’s men’s college basketball team, so as you can imagine seeing your favorite team competing for the biggest win of the season on the national stage is exciting,” Wayback Burgers president Patrick Conlin said. “We wanted to throw a little extra incentive onto the court to help fuel their hunger to win."

Throughout the tournament, Wayback Burgers has also been running a Half Court Half Off promotion where customers get half off the price of their order when a player from any team scored a half-court shot.

The restaurant company has locations in 35 states and Morocco, Pakistan, The Netherlands, Ireland, South Africa, Japan and Canada.

Connecticut's Adama Sanogo (21) shoots the ball against San Diego State.
Connecticut's Adama Sanogo (21) shoots the ball against San Diego State.

UConn storms to big halftime lead over San Diego State

UConn is 20 minutes away from a confetti shower and a fifth national championship.  The Huskies took a 36-24 lead into the break over San Diego State and got separation in the first half with a 16-2 run.

The Aztecs were held without a field goal for 11 minutes and shot 29 percent for the half, at one point missing 14 shots in a row before Darrion Trammell made a jumper with 5:26 left.

UConn’s length at the perimeter and their suffocating defense made San Diego State’s inside presence a non-factor.

Tristen Newton had nine points, while Jordan Hawkins and Adama Sanogo had seven points for UConn, who hit 50 percent of its shots.

Trammell scored seven points for San Diego State. Lamont Butler and Keshad Johnson chipped in with six points a piece.

Connecticut Huskies guard Tristen Newton (2) dribbles against San Diego State's Darrion Trammell.
Connecticut Huskies guard Tristen Newton (2) dribbles against San Diego State's Darrion Trammell.

UConn surges to 10-point lead over SDSU

The Connecticut Huskies warmed up fast and lead the San Diego State Aztecs 22-12 with 8:53 on the clock. They went on a 16-2 run, including an 8-0 stretch that put them ahead for the first time in the game. UConn has outrebounded San Diego State 12-8 as the Aztecs have missed their last 12 shots from the field.

“We have to finish at the rim,” head coach Brian Dutcher said on the ESPN broadcast during commercial break.

Who sang national anthem? 

The national anthem before the San Diego State and UConn national championship game was sung by astronaut Tracy Dyson.

She was selected for the Astronaut Candidate Training program in 1998 and has been on two space flights. She was also a track athlete at Cal State Fullerton before entering the space program.

The response to Dyson's rendition of the anthem? Well, you can watch it for yourself.

Connecticut, San Diego State tied at 10

After the Aztecs took an early 6-2 lead with back-to-back three-point shots, they led the Huskies for the first five minutes of the game. Connecticut finally caught up with back-to-back field goals — a jumpshot each from Tristen Newton and Adama Sanogo. The game is tied at 10 with 14:42 on the clock.

Huskies, Aztecs underway for men's national championship

The Connecticut Huskies and San Diego State Aztecs tipped off in Houston as they battle for the 2022-23 national championship.

UConn, seeking its fifth title, has won every game of the NCAA tournament by an average of 20.6 points. The Huskies are led by junior forward Adama Sanogo, who is averaging 17.2 points per game and 7.6 rebounds. He had a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds in the semifinal win over the Miami Hurricanes. He's followed closely behind by sophomore guard Jordan Hawkins, who averages 16.2 ppg  and had 14 in the semifinals after recovering from a stomach bug.

The Aztecs are the underdogs in their first national championship appearance after losing in the first round the last two seasons. They've made the Sweet 16 twice before, including in 2011 when NBA champion Kawhi Leonard was on the team. Now, senior guard Matt Bradley is their leading scorer, averaging 12.7 points per game while tallying a team-high 21 in the semifinal against Florida Atlantic.

Who will take home the title? We'll find out tonight.

Connecticut or San Diego State? NCAA Tournament men's title game picks

From 68 to two. That's what is left of the NCAA men's tournament field after five rounds of play. Neither Connecticut nor San Diego State were popular picks to win the championship. They were seeded fourth and fifth, respectively.

Wild Final Four sets up underdog San Diego State against four-time titlist UConn

Connecticut and San Diego State will meet Monday night for the national championship.

In basketball. College basketball. Men’s college basketball. Just to be as clear as possible: There were 352 Division I men’s teams during the 2022-23 season, and the No. 5 Aztecs and the No. 4 Huskies are the last two standing.

It can feel a little hard to believe.

San Diego State had never reached the Elite Eight before this season. Now, after a thrilling, buzzer-beating epic against No. 9 Florida Atlantic, the Aztecs will look to join UNLV in 1990 as the only current mid-major programs to win the national championship.

Connecticut has won four since 1999, making a case along the way for being counted among the premier brands in the country. Yet the Huskies had made just three tournament appearances and never advanced past the opening weekend since winning the whole thing in 2014.

Paul Myerberg

What time does men's national championship game start? 

The men's NCAA Tournament final is slated to begin at 9:20 p.m. ET on Monday and will be broadcast on CBS.

FINAL FOUR RECAP: UConn continues March Madness domination, will play SDSU for title

San Diego State's run has been one of great building projects in college sports

HOUSTON — If your rooting interest in Monday night’s men’s championship game is up for grabs, may I suggest thinking about the poor, downtrodden undergrad of little-known San Diego State who will wake up this week to weather in the mid-60s with an oh-so-frigid low of 54 degrees and clear sunny.

Kidding aside, all of San Diego State’s — let’s call them natural advantages — make what they’ve accomplished there one of the most impressive, organically built powers in college sports.

— Dan Wolken

Jim Nantz reflects on his last men's basketball championship broadcast

Even after calling so many of the biggest sporting events in recent memory — including Super Bowls, Masters tournaments and Final Four battles — Jim Nantz is still basking in the moment.

The iconic CBS play-by-play broadcaster will call his final NCAA basketball game Monday when No. 4 seed Connecticut and No. 5 seed San Diego State meet in the men's national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Despite facing his last college basketball broadcast, Nantz told USA TODAY Sports that "gratitude" was his prevailing emotion ahead of Monday's title game.

MEMORIES: Jim Nantz reflects on his last NCAA men's basketball championship broadcast: 'I'm nostalgic'

"This has been such a big part of my life," Nantz said. "It's always tough when you know you're not going to get to go through this again. ... I'm nostalgic but it's not a melancholy feeling right now. It's appreciation ... gratitude.

"And that's how I'm getting through this weekend with a smile on my face and not weeping."

— Richard Morin

Opinion: Huskies look unstoppable, inevitable

HOUSTON — The ball was on the baseline, in nearly an impossible spot, the pass needing to be sent through a thicket of bodies out to the perimeter where Alex Karaban had snuck away from everyone. Only UConn’s Tristen Newton knew where the 6-foot-8 sharpshooter was, and even with his lower body inches from going out of bounds, he fired the ball exactly where it had to go.


That was how the first half ended in UConn’s 72-59 deconstruction of Miami in Saturday’s second national men’s semifinal, and though the game was not technically over, it might as well have been.

If Miami didn’t know it before, they certainly had to at that moment. UConn just had too many options, too many answers. And with each game on the march to Monday night, the Huskies have proven they’re beyond good.

They’re inevitable. And San Diego State is going to be the next to find out.

Dan Wolken

Inside San Diego State's buzzer-beater win to advance

HOUSTON — San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher didn't bother calling a final timeout because he didn't have a play he wanted to call.

He didn't need one.

Lamont Butler had already won the Aztecs one game this season on a buzzer-beater, no reason to think he couldn't do it again. Even if the stakes were just a tad higher than clinching the Mountain West title.

After trailing for the final 27-plus minutes, Butler gave San Diego State the only lead that mattered, draining a pull-up jumper as time expired to stun Florida Atlantic 72-71 in the Final Four on Saturday night.

"(Coach) told me to go downhill, get something at the rim," Butler said. "They did a good job cutting me off. Once I looked up, it was two seconds left, I knew I had to make a shot.

Nancy Armour

Devastated Florida Atlantic vows to make Final Four return

HOUSTON — It couldn’t have ended in more heartbreaking fashion, Florida Atlantic falling to San Diego State right at the buzzer Saturday night 72-71.

There’s no doubt that the team and fans will be left frustrated as the Owls held a 14-point lead with under 15 minutes left in the game, all to be shrunken as time went on.

The Aztecs completed the third-largest comeback in national semifinals history and fifth largest in a Final Four.

After San Diego State’s Lamont Butler scored at the buzzer, Owls head coach Dusty May sat with his hands on his knees for an extended period of time.

Redshirt freshman Nick Boyd said that it’ll serve as motivation to get back to work.

“I'm not dwelling on it much," Boyd said. "I'm happy for our team. I mean, we put FAU on the map. When I came to this school and I committed here, I said this is what we're going to do.

— Zach Weinberger, Special to the Palm Beach Post

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: March Madness final recap: UConn, wins national title