Huskies to Play Huskies

If you are old enough to remember Connecticut's first national championship in men's basketball in 1999, you certainly remember Richard Hamilton.

And if you remember Rip Hamilton, you probably remember the buzzer beater he hit in the 1998 NCAA Tournament to defeat Washington 75-74. It remains one of the greatest shots in UConn basketball history.

And if you remember all of that, it makes sense that Hamilton's shot would be the first thing to cross your mind when you hear that UConn and Washington have finalized plans for an intersectional home-and-home men's basketball series to begin in the 2012-13 season.

UConn announced Wednesday that the Huskies and the Huskies will be getting together twice in the upcoming seasons. UConn will play host to the Pac-12 Huskies on Dec. 29, 2012, at either Gampel Pavilion or the XL Center. And the teams will meet in a return match during the 2013-14 season in Seattle.

Television plans for the two games will be announced at a later date.

UConn and Washington have met three times previously, with UConn holding a 3-0 edge. All the games have all been held at neutral sites. In addition to the game won by Hamilton, UConn won a 69-48 decision on Dec. 1, 1998, at the Great Eight Basketball Classic at the United Center in Chicago. And the last meeting between the schools came on March 24, 2006, when UConn won 98-92 in overtime at the Washington, D.C., Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament at the Verizon Center.

Hamilton's game winner came in the NCAA East Regional semifinals in Greensboro, N.C. UConn trailed 74-73 with 29 seconds left but had the ball with an inbounds pass near midcourt after a timeout. Guard Khalid-El Amin drove the right side of the lane and passed inside to center Jake Voskhul with 10 seconds left.

Voskuhl missed a six-footer. Hamilton missed a short follow up with seven seconds left. Kevin Freeman kept the ball alive off the backboard and players scrambled for the loose ball. Hamilton somehow came away with the ball. As he fell to the ground, Rip somehow managed to take – and hit – an eight-footer. The ball fell through the net with eight-tenths of a second remaining.

It was an important win for the Huskies, who had their Final Four hopes for that season vanquished with a loss to North Carolina in the regional final – again in Greensboro. And that loss motivated the Huskies to come back the next season and win the national title.

Washington, coached by Lorenzo Romar, finished 24-11 overall and 14-4 in the Pac-12 last season but did not make the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies were the top seed in the NIT but lost to Minnesota 68-67 in overtime in a semifinal game.

At this point, UConn is ineligible for postseason play in 2013 and that will include the Big East tournament if UConn is banned from the NCAA Tournament as expected because of poor APR results. The Washington game could be part of a challenging and appealing non-conference schedule.

UConn remains scheduled to play in the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands from Nov. 16-19. Other teams in that tournament are George Mason, Iona, Mercer, New Mexico, Illinois-Chicago and Wake Forest.

UConn has a memorandum of understanding to play in the second annual Carrier Classic but that event is in a state of flux and may not even carry the same name. North Carolina and Michigan State were the inaugural participants last year on the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson. But there will not be an active carrier off San Diego available for the game this November.

Arizona had been mentioned as a possible opponent but that was never firmed up. UConn is awaiting word from the organizing group, Morale Entertainment, on a site. Charleston has been mentioned.

Phil Chardis of UConn's athletic communications office said no other non-conference opponents have been confirmed at this point.

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