'We didn't even shoot good'

UConn humbles Illinois to reach its second straight Final Four, while Alabama shoots past Clemson for its first-ever appearance. A breakdown of the games, plus a preview for tonight's Elite Eight showdowns, and more.

Half of the Final Four is set, and the other half is coming later tonight. It’s gonna be a good day.

Let's get to Saturday’s news.

1. Where were you during UConn’s 30-0 run?

The NCAA Tournament’s famous for its game-winning shots or memorable moments. Think Chris Webber calling timeout, Kris Jenkins’ burying a 3, or even Jim Valvano running around, looking for someone to hug.

But a scoring run that covers 50 minutes in actual time? That’s counter to a singular event that sticks in people’s minds.

Yet when people think of the 2024 NCAA Tournament, UConn’s 30-0 run that buried Illinois in the East Regional Final will be the thing from this tournament. It defies common sense, akin to a video game or the Monstars.

But no. It was an actual thing that flipped a 5-point game into a 77-52 rout on Saturday night.

“I didn’t expect that,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “I thought we were in a good spot at half, especially after the slow start. ... We obviously came out in the second half and got blitzed.”

That blitz — it covered the final 1:49 of the first half and the first 7:19 of the second — took shape in 17 Illinois missed shots and obfuscated that UConn (35-3) once again didn’t shoot well from the perimeter (3-of-17) and had meh scoring nights from Tristen Newton (5 points, 5 assists) and Cam Spencer (11 points, but 12 rebounds).

Didn’t matter. The defense was such that Illinois (29-9) couldn’t do anything. That’s a credit to the defense, which held the sport’s No. 2 offense to just .75 points per possession, and especially sophomore center Donovan Clingan. He had five blocked shots, but it might as well have been a dozen (or more).

Per ESPN, the Illini were 0-19 on field goal attempts contested by Clingan. In the first 17 minutes when Clingan was on the court, UConn outscored Illinois 34-4, and the Huskies were +29 with him on the floor. That fed the rest of UConn and spelled doom for Illinois.

"These guys play every possession like it's the end of the world," UConn coach Dan Hurley said. "We didn't even shoot good."

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