Monday night proved to be an accurate microcosm for UConn’s seven-year stint in the American Athletic Conference. It was complete and utter domination.
The Huskies eviscerated USF 80-39 at the XL Center to close out the regular season. This game marks the final regular season game that UConn will play in the conference before returning home to the Big East.
“I like to look at it as, ‘the goal is to win the league every year.’ I don’t think we set a goal like, ‘let’s go undefeated the entire time we’re in this league.’ It just kind of happened,” head coach Geno Auriemma said. “The best way I can describe it is it just happened.”
Auriemma, seemingly unamused by the milestone, has accumulated numerous impressive accolades over his 35 years with Connecticut. Add a perfect 136-0 record against the AAC since joining the conference for the 2013-14 season to the list.
“It was like when we won those 111 games in a row. There was never a time when I went to a game and went ‘I hope our streak doesn’t end today.’ You just focus on the next game,” Auriemma said. “Then you move on. It happened; it just happened.”
Six conference titles (seventh pending) and three National Championships later, and UConn will be returning to the Big East for 2020-21.
“If you’re a pessimist, you’ll say ‘well there really wasn’t any competition in your league,’ and if you’re an optimist you’ll say ‘wow, you guys must’ve played really good all of those games,’” Auriemma said.
These aren’t mutually exclusive. In reality, both are true.
To be brutally honest, teams in the American didn’t even come that close to beating UConn. Tulane came the closest by losing 63-60 in 2017, but that was the only one-possession game. Other than the 7-point win over UCF earlier this season, every other win over this streak has been by double digits. In fact, only 11 AAC opponents avoided getting “21-ed” by the Huskies in 136 tries.
UConn scored 100 or more points 16 times, and hit the 90-mark 56 times. They held teams to under 40 points 35 times, and under 30 in five games. This kind of dominance is unmatched, folks.
But the past is the past, and that seems to be the point that Geno was trying to make. All you can do is focus on what’s next, and play the games on your schedule. Looking ahead to this weekend, UConn will look to extend their AAC run into one last conference tournament.
“I think if we play this way, no matter who we play this weekend, we’ll come out on top. There’s only so many styles of basketball that you can play against us,” Crystal Dangerfield said.
Both Dangerfield and Megan Walker are confident in the team’s recent play heading in to the tournament.
“That’s the goal is for us to have fun out there and win by big amounts,” Walker said. “I feel like we’ve put together a good stretch and this weekend we’ll get back to it.”
This weekend, UConn will have the No. 1 seed, a first-round bye and home-state advantage. They will play their first game Saturday at 2 p.m. against the winner of East Carolina versus Temple. They beat each opponent earlier this season by 56 and 29, respectively.
If they win Saturday, the Huskies will play their semifinal game Sunday at 4 p.m. The finals will be Monday at 7 p.m. All AAC tournament games will be played at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.