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Updated: Tuesday, April 6, 2004 1:39 AM EDT
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(2) Connecticut 82, (3) Georgia Tech 73

SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon turned Connecticut's destiny into reality.

Okafor collected 24 points and 15 rebounds and Gordon scored 21 points as the Huskies earned their second national championship with an 82-73 victory over Georgia Tech.

The preseason No. 1 team in the country, Connecticut (33-6) completed its run through the NCAA Tournament by showcasing its talent and depth, led by Okafor, who was named Most Outstanding Player. The Huskies also earned the title in 1999.

"I think tonight we put on a display so people could see how special we really could be," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said.

The Huskies were placed at the top because of the 1-2 punch of Okafor and Gordon, and the two juniors delivered again. Limited by fouls to 22 minutes in the semifinals against Duke, Okafor made 10-of-17 shots to win his battle with Georgia Tech 7-1 center Luke Schenscher.

"It just proved that we can accomplish what we put our minds to and that we are as good as everybody originally said we were," Okafor said.

Gordon got the Huskies off to a hot start, capping a 10-0 burst with a pull-up 3-pointer for a 21-12 advantage with 11:18 left before halftime. He scored 12 points over the first 10:03.

UConn took some serious momentum into the locker room when Okafor rebounded a missed free throw by Georgia Tech guard Will Bynum and whipped the ball upcourt to Rashad Anderson, whose 3-pointer at the buzzer provided a 41-26 bulge.

The Huskies led by as many as 25 points in the second half, then held off a late barrage of 3-pointers by the Yellow Jackets (28-10).

"We just kind of immortalized ourselves. That's what it really means to me," Gordon said. "We accomplished something great."

Georgia Tech, making its first appearance in the national title game, shot just 38 percent (27-of-71) and was hurt by a series of costly mistakes. The Huskies converted all six first-half turnovers by the Yellow Jackets into 12 points.

"You've got to give UConn credit," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. "I'm not going to sit here and say they didn't have anything to do with our shooting effort tonight."

The Huskies emphatically avenged a 77-61 loss to the Yellow Jackets on November 26 and joined Duke and Kentucky as the only teams to capture multiple titles since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

"Once again, there aren't that many teams that can go wire-to-wire," Calhoun said. "It's a very difficult thing to do."

UConn also got 18 points from Rashad Anderson, who joined Okafor and Gordon on the all-tournament team. Freshman Josh Boone added nine points and six rebounds.

Will Bynum led Georgia Tech with 17 points and fellow reserve Isma'il Muhammad added 10. The pair played down the stretch in place of the starting backcourt of B.J. Elder and Jarrett Jack, who combined to make 5-of-23 shots for 21 points.


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