After 5th NCAA title banner raised, UConn cruises

STORRS, Conn. — Alex Karaban scored 22 points to lead five players in double figures and No. 6 UConn opened the defense of the program’s fifth national championship on Monday with a 95-52 rout of Northern Arizona.

Tristen Newton scored 14 points, Donovan Clingan and Stephon Castle each had 12 and Samson Johnson added 11 for UConn, which unveiled the school’s latest championship banner in a pregame ceremony.

The Huskies shot 56% (32 of 57) from the floor and held the Lumberjacks to 34% (20 of 59). Liam Lloyd led Northern Arizona with 15 points.

The Huskies won their games in last year’s NCAA Tournament by an average of 20 points, but then lost their top three players, Adama Sanogo, Jordan Houston and Andre Jackson Jr. to the NBA. That trio averaged a combined 40.1 points and 17.7 rebounds a game.

This year the team’s literally centered around Clingan. But the 7-foot-2 sophomore missed the last month of the preseason with a right foot strain. He is being eased back into the rotation by coach Dan Hurley and played just 15 minutes, grabbing eight rebounds.

He opened the scoring with an offensive rebound and layup, part of a 14-5 opening run. The Huskies took their first 20-point lead when Karaban rebounded his own miss and put it in to make it 39-19. UConn led 47-30 at the half.

The Huskies are seeking to become the first program to repeat as national champions since Florida did it in 2006 and 2007. They will host Stonehill in their second home, Hartford, on Saturday.

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