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UConn males’s and ladies’s basketball groups head to Elite Eight collectively for first time since 2014

UConn’s men’s and women’s basketball teams are both in the Elite Eight simultaneously for the first time since 2014. Another notable fact? Both won their respective championships that year. Oh, and the same thing happened in 2004.  There is still a lot of basketball left to play before potentially lifting the trophy, but Saturday was

UConn males’s and ladies’s basketball groups head to Elite Eight collectively for first time since 2014

UConn’s males’s and ladies’s basketball groups are each within the Elite Eight concurrently for the primary time since 2014. One other notable reality? Each gained their respective championships that yr. Oh, and the identical factor occurred in 2004. 

There’s nonetheless numerous basketball left to play earlier than probably lifting the trophy, however Saturday was already an thrilling day for UConn followers. Dan Hurley’s males’s staff noticed an incredible 30-0 run against Illinois. In the meantime, the ladies’s staff simply performed in this system’s thirtieth consecutive Candy 16. 

Though the boys’s staff has been a heavy favourite to defend their nationwide title, Geno Auriemma’s ladies’s squad would’ve been excused for not even making it this far. It isn’t that the ladies’s staff is not proficient — they’ve set the usual by way of the years — however the 2023-24 Huskies have been counting on a seven-player rotation resulting from accidents and inexperience. 

Auriemma’s staff was wanting like one of many strongest groups within the nation throughout preseason, however then 5 Huskies suffered season-ending accidents.

The Huskies nearly had a significant slip up late within the sport towards Duke. After trailing by 20 within the third quarter, the Blue Devils had climbed again to make it a five-point sport with underneath a minute remaining. The principle wrongdoer?

“The fatigue issue turned an enormous challenge as a result of it pressured us to alter our sport plan,” Auriemma mentioned postgame. “We bought up 20 as a result of we simply pushed it, pushed it, pushed it. After which I felt like, ‘OK. We want a breather right here or we’re not going to have the ability to end the sport.’”

Regardless of taking that breather, the Huskies bought it accomplished behind a 24-point efficiency by redshirt junior guard Paige Bueckers. She additionally contributed 5 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Bueckers gained 11 main awards in 2021 throughout her freshman season, however she sat out all of final season with a torn ACL. She is again to her common self, having led UConn with 21.9 factors per contest this season, while also improving her defense.

For sure, the Huskies are glad to have her again.

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“I am not likely stunned when the ball goes within the hoop for her,” senior ahead Aaliyah Edwards mentioned. “A few of the strikes that she will get main as much as the bucket is fairly spectacular, however that is simply how Paige performs basketball, and it is lovely to look at.”

Edwards has been one other dominant participant for UConn. She entered Saturday’s sport averaging 17.5 factors and 9.5 rebounds per contest. She was UConn’s key participant final yr, after they made it to the Candy 16 however fell quick towards Ohio State. 

UConn solely checked in six gamers towards Duke, however the staff nonetheless bought the job accomplished. Earlier this weekend, Auriemma mentioned not having many gamers accessible turns into more durable in March due to what’s at stake. Nevertheless, he mentioned this staff appears to have a bit additional vitality this time round.

“We aren’t as mentally or bodily worn out like we have been final yr right now,” Auriemma defined. “I feel having Paige makes us a bit extra assured than possibly we have been final yr right now. I feel [KK Arnold] provides us a distinct aspect that we did not have final yr right now. I might say these two issues in all probability are the most important distinction. 

“There’s numerous similarities, too, sadly. It does not really feel the identical. I feel our practices and every thing that we have accomplished main as much as this feels a bit bit totally different than it did final season… I feel we’re in a greater state of mind than we have been final yr.”

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