UConn's Paige Bueckers 'best player in America,' coach Geno Auriemma says

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UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma put the rest of the teams left in the NCAA Tournament on notice Monday night following the Huskies’ 72-64 victory over Syracuse.

Paige Bueckers scored 32 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had six assists in the win. With that performance, Auriemma reminded the country who he thought the best women’s basketball player in the country was.


Paige Bueckers vs Syracuse

UConn guard Paige Bueckers, #5, shoots as Syracuse guard Georgia Woolley, left, defends in the second half of a second-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament on Monday, March 25, 2024 in Storrs, Connecticut. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

“We have the best player in America,” Auriemma told reporters after the game, via ESPN. “The stats will tell you one thing … But it’s when they happen and how they impact the game that’s so remarkable. I just think this team will go as far as she’s able to carry that kind of a load. As long as she keeps getting a little bit of contributions from everybody.

“You need people who can make winning plays at big moments, especially the last five minutes of the game. You need people that can make those plays, the shots that they have to make, the rebounds that they have to get, the loose balls they got to get, the stops they have to have.”

Bueckers has flown under the radar this season amid the hype around Iowa sharpshooter Caitlin Clark and LSU star Angel Reese after the Tigers won a national championship. Clark set the record for most points all-time in NCAA history, and Reese has the Tigers in position to make another championship run.

Geno Auriemma hugs Syracuse coach

UConn head coach Geno Auriemma, left, and Syracuse head coach Felisha Legette-Jack embrace before a second-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament on Monday, March 25, 2024 in Storrs, Connecticut. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)


Last season, Bueckers was finished early after she suffered a devastating knee injury. The Huskies ended up bowing out of the regional semifinal in one of their earliest tournament exists in recent history.

UConn started the season off with some bad news too. This time, it was Azzi Fudd who tore her ACL in the 15th game of the season as she was averaging 15.1 points. The Huskies persevered behind Bueckers and Aaliyah Edwards to go undefeated in the Big East and eventually earn the No. 3 seed in the tournament.

Bueckers is averaging 21.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.2 steals per game this season, really showing what UConn missed last year.

Paige Bueckers vs Jackson State

UConn guard Paige Bueckers, #5, flexes after making a basket while fouled in the first half of a first-round college basketball game against Jackson State in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 23, 2024 in Storrs, Connecticut. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)


Now, UConn will have to go through Duke in hopes of making the regional final. An Elite Eight matchup could pit them against either No. 1 USC or No. 5 Baylor.

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