April 5, 2004
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Junior Emeka Okafor scored 24 points and junior guard Ben Gordon added 21 as the University of Connecticut won its second NCAA championship in men's basketball with an 82-73 victory over Georgia Tech on Monday evening before a crowd of 44,468 at the Alamodome.
The win gives the Huskies a final record of 33-6 on the season while the Yellow Jackets finish the campaign at 28-10.
Okafor, named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, was dominant inside against the Yellow Jackets making 10 of 17 field goal attempts and yanking 15 rebounds. He was joined on the 2004 NCAA Final Four team by teammates Gordon and sophomore guard Rashad Anderson and by Georgia Tech's Luke Schenscher and Will Bynum. Okafor now has 53 career double-doubles and 24 this season.
The Huskies steadily built their lead throughout the first half -- outscoring Georgia Tech, 30-14, over the half's final 13 minutes. UConn was able to increase its 41-26 halftime lead to as many as 25, at 58-33, during the second half. The Huskies were never seriously challenged the rest of the way as the registered the ninth NCAA championship in intercollegiate sports in school history. The win also gave the school a national championship for the sixth consecutive academic year (three championships in women's basketball, two in men's basketball and one in men's soccer).
UConn continued their pattern of jumping out to quick leads throughout the 2004 NCAA Tournament, leading 9-4 as Anderson and Gordon hit three-pointers just 3:35 into the contest, but Georgia Tech inched back to take their only lead of the game of 12-11 with 13:41 to play before intermission on a basket by Clarence Moore. Okafor scored to give UConn the lead right back less than a minute later and the Huskies were never trailed again.
With the Connecticut women's basketball team playing in tomorrow's national championship game in New Orleans, La., against Tennessee, the school has chance to become the only school in NCAA history to win both the men's and women's tournament championship in the same season. UConn was just the sixth school in history to have both squads make their respective Final Fours and with the victory Monday evening UConn became the first school to win at least one championship from that situation.
Since the NCAA tournament bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985, Connecticut becomes just the third school - joining Kentucky and Duke - to win multiple championships. The victory gives UConn head coach Jim Calhoun a 35-14 record all-time in NCAA tournament games - including a 32-9 record at UConn.
The Huskies won their final nine games of the season and 14 of their last 15 games, including the BIG EAST tournament championship. UConn now has a Final Four record of 4-0 with its appearances in 1999 and 2004.