College Hoops

UConn blasts Illinois in the Elite Eight and is on the verge of an all-time dominant American sports story

UConn blasts Illinois in the Elite Eight and is on the verge of an all-time dominant American sports story

BOSTON — Seldom in this sport — and in this beloved, bold, beautiful bracket of a tournament — have we seen a team this ferocious. This laughably dominant. I’m talking of the Connecticut Huskies, who are redefining the borders of our imagination with each passing game.

Rarely have we ever watched a regional final go from seemingly close to so preposterously non-competitive like what happened Saturday night in Boston.

For nearly 20 minutes, Illinois was fooled into thinking it had a hope of a shot against No. 1 overall seed Connecticut in the East Regional final. Then the second half started, the dam burst, the ground caved in on Illinois as UConn scorched off a historic 30-0 run that strapped it to a rocket headed for a second straight Final Four, cruising at the speed of sound.

The final: Huskies 77, Fighting Illini 52.

UConn’s historic NCAA Tournament tear continues.  

The game went from 23-23 with 1:23 remaining in the first half to 53-23 in favor of the Huskies with 13:17 to go in the game. They played the final 13 minutes out of obligation, nothing more. A tsunami landed off the Boston shore on this evening and Illinois was ripped away as a result, punted out of this bracket. 

Let me repeat: A 30-0 run. IN THE ELITE EIGHT. Against the No. 2 offense in the country. The Huskies held Illinois to a season-low 23 first-half points at just 0.73 points per possession, and the Fighting Illini went more than 45 minutes in real time without a point.

It was so outrageous, even Larry David — sitting in the first row, all of maybe 30 feet from UConn’s bench, was chirping at Hurley with approximately six minutes remaining on the clock.

“Shame on you, Hurley! Take those starters out! Stop coaching!” David heckled. “The game is over!”

Even when the game is over, the fight never stops for Hurley or his team. He said Friday that this group “feels different.”

“We broke through last year. We’ve established a level,” he said. “Maybe we feel a little less pressure as an organization because we feel like we’ve established a level now of where our program’s at, that we’re going to be in this spot moving forward. Obviously, this year and moving forward.”

On Saturday, with its latest spoliation, we all see and stand in awe of this. Hurley’s program is the best of the best. But even if this type of run isn’t repeatable in the years ahead (Hurley will sure as hell try, though),…

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