The last time UConn opposed Iowa State, one team was going to see its season end.
This time, neither team's season will end but the 20th-ranked Huskies are seeking to continue their unbeaten start while undefeated Iowa State is hoping to get another resume-building victory Sunday night in the championship game of the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Ore.
UConn (7-0) is off to its best start since winning its first nine games of the 2013-14 season when it beat Iowa State in the Sweet Sixteen at Madison Square Garden en route to its fourth national championship.
After beating Stonehill, Boston University, Buffalo, UNC-Wilmington and Delaware State by an average of 30.2 points, the Huskies advanced to the title game by getting double-digit victories over Oregon and No. 18 Alabama.
The Huskies followed up their impressive 83-59 rout of Oregon on Thursday with an 82-67 victory over Alabama in Friday's semifinals. Adama Sanogo, who is averaging 20.6 points, scored 25, including seven in a decisive run midway through the second.
"We're used to having success in these MTEs (multi-team events)," UConn coach Dan Hurley said. "The whole mindset of the program this year is, we've been contending the last couple of years, contending in the Big East, contending in tournaments. But we're trying to go from contenders to champions. Now, we have a chance to do that on Sunday."
Besides Sanogo reaching 20 points for the fourth time in seven games, UConn forced 21 turnovers, including 16 in the opening 20 minutes.
UConn heads into Sunday averaging 85.9 points but is encountering a defense that gives up just 55.8 points and forces 21.4 turnovers per game.
Iowa State (5-0) entered this event after allowing 45 points per game in double-digit wins over IUPUI, North Carolina A&T and Milwaukee. The Cyclones advanced to the championship game after holding off Villanova 81-79 in overtime Thursday and edging top-ranked North Carolina 70-65 on Friday.
Caleb Grill scored a career-high 31 points and hit seven 3-pointers in the North Carolina win. He entered Friday averaging 7.3 points and missed 20 of his first 24 3-point attempts.
Aside from Grill, St. Bonaventure transfer Jaren Holmes added 22 points. Holmes' best showing this season helped Iowa State get its third win in program history against a top-ranked team, while Gabe Kalscheur struggled after scoring 23 off the bench against Villanova.
Iowa State's defense also fared well, especially at the perimeter and in the turnover battle. The Cyclones held the Tar Heels to 3 of 18 from behind the arc and forced Villanova into 14 giveaways.
"We certainly encountered our share of adversity tonight with fouls and swings in the game," Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger said.
"We talked a lot about it leading into this game that the full 40 minutes was going to be so important. Our guys have tremendous confidence in our ability to get stops based on the work that they do every day, and then the game comes around offensively, and different guys certainly stepped up."
--Field Level Media
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