Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

UConn avoids upset by Alabama to advance to second straight championship game

The Crimson Tide got close but the Huskies took control in the second half to win 86-72

The Final Four logo on the ground as the teams arrived on Tuesday, Apr. 2, 2024 in Phoenix.

UConn steamrolled past every team they faced en route to the Final Four, but Alabama wasn't just any other team. Yet, UConn head coach Dan Hurley once again led his team through trouble in an 86-72 win. 

Once again, UConn's offense proved why the team sits atop the rankings. The Huskies excelled at drawing fouls when its players couldn’t hit from beyond the arc, earning 14 free throws compared to the Crimson Tide's five. UConn's tough play rewarded the team with 11 points from the line while putting several Alabama players into foul trouble.

"I think we just stayed true to our identity," redshirt sophomore forward Alex Karaban said. "The coaches preach that every day. If we focus on the defense and the rebounding, everything else can go our way."

The first half was an offensive masterclass for two starkly different brands of basketball.

UConn's terrific guard play was a huge reason the team marched back to the Final Four. The same was true for the Huskies' offensive success in the half. Freshman guard Stephon Castle and graduate guard Cam Spencer led the Huskies with 13 and 8 points in the half, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide relied on 3-point shooting to keep up with the defending champions. Alabama knocked down 8-11 shots from beyond the arc to score over half of its points in the first half. Sophomore guard Rylan Griffen, senior guard Latrell Wrightsell Jr. and graduate guard Aaron Estrada all drained a pair from three to power the Crimson Tide’s surge.

Dueling offenses led to a fierce battle of tug of war. Whenever one team seemed to have the upper hand, the other would come storming back with clean shots and clutch defensive stops. The half saw seven lead changes and five ties leading to a slight 44-40 UConn advantage after 20 minutes.

UConn started to look more like itself in the second half, as Alabama's bread and butter of three-pointers all but disappeared. The Crimson Tide shot an abysmal 2-10 from beyond the arc in the half, as senior guard Mark Sears struggled to find the bottom of the net.

"I say they did a better job of running us off the 3-point line," Sears said. "Even when we would try to create separation, they were right there to run us off the line."

UConn's offense also changed for far different reasons. Gone were the first half's plethora of free throws as the Huskies took just 4 shots with 5 minutes remaining. Rather, a slew of scorers slowly built UConn's lead as Hurley’s team inched closer and closer to another title game appearance. 

Karaban and sophomore center Donovan Clingan tag-teamed the Crimson Tide with 10 points each in the half. Besides their clutch shooting, the duo both contributed a pair of blocks to keep the Crimson Tide down.

UConn finally closed the door on a dangerous Alabama team to win 86-72. Hurley thinks his team was able to adjust to the Crimson Tide's offense and shut down good looks in the second half.

"They were really, really hard to guard," Hurley said. "I was thrilled with the way we defended, the way we closed the game out."

Now, UConn and Purdue will face off. The Boilermakers are seeking their first-ever national championship while the Huskies are trying to become the first repeat champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007.

"Everyone came to UConn to try to be a part of history," Clingan said. "We're one step closer to our goal. But none of us in this locker room are satisfied."

Edited by Shane Brennan and Caera Learmonth.

Reach the reporter at and follow @jackcbarron on X. 

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on X.

Continue supporting student journalism and donate to The State Press today.

Subscribe to Pressing Matters



This website uses cookies to make your experience better and easier. By using this website you consent to our use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie Policy.