Connecticut 72, Memphis 58
After missing out in 2015 and not having the chance to defend their 2014 championship, the Connecticut Huskies are headed back to the NCAA Tournament.
The Huskies (24-10) dominated for most of the game, five players scored in double figures, to win the American Athletic Conference title, 72-58, over Memphis on Sunday at Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.
UConn, which won also won an NCAA championship in 2011, was led by Shonn Miller and Sterling Gibbs, who each scored 13 points. Daniel Hamilton was closing in on triple-double but fell short and finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
Memphis, which had made five straight appearances in the tournament until last year, was led by freshman forward Dedric Lawson, who recorded his 19th double-double of the season with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
A six-minute drought early in the first half doomed the Tigers (19-15) as they fell behind by 13 points at 20-7.
The Huskies maintained their 13-point lead when Hamilton sank two free throws after a flagrant foul was called on Memphis' Trahson Burrell. A jumper by Steven Enoch and another bucket by Hamilton put UConn up 32-16 with over a minute to go in the half.
The Huskies started the second half with a 32-19 lead. Miller's 3-point jumper put them up 37-21 at the 18:54 mark.
But then the Huskies went cold until Omar Calhoun made one of two free throws at the 13:09 mark. The Tigers were able to climb back in the game and got to within four on Jeremiah Martin's jumper at 40-36 with 11:42 to go.
But the Huskies went on a 12-0 run to put the game away and seal a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
UConn connected on 44.9 percent of its field goals (22-for-49) while Memphis struggled, making only 21 of 56 (37.5 percent).
The Tigers were one of the nation's top rebounding teams averaging 40.9 per game (No. 17), but on Sunday, it was the Huskies who controlled the glass as they won the battle on the boards, 33-25.