St. John's basketball: Rick Pitino congratulates UConn on National Championship

The Red Storm head coach will be trying to defeat the Huskies next season
Jan 20, 2024; New York, New York, USA;  St. John's basketball head coach Rick Pitino at Madison
Jan 20, 2024; New York, New York, USA; St. John's basketball head coach Rick Pitino at Madison / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Big East Conference can puff out its chest once again that it holds a National Championship and St. John's basketball head coach Rick Pitino is saluting the UConn Huskies for winning back-to-back titles.

"Congratulations to Big East member UConn on an incredible back to back championship," he wrote on social media on Wednesday evening.

The Huskies defeated Purdue, 75-60, for its sixth National Championship since 1999, and becoming the sport's first repeat champ since Florida (2006, 2007).

"No let up, never lost focus and sustained your play at both ends like true champions," Pitino continued. "Much respect [and] admiration!!!"

UConn won its NCAA Tournament games by an average of 23.3 points per game, a tournament record, surpassing Rick Pitino's 1996 Kentucky squad which won its games by an average of 21.1 points.

The only game the Huskies played this postseason that was decided by single digits was its 5-point victory, 95-90, over the Red Storm in the Big East Tournament Semifinals.

Its next closest game was a 14-point win over Alabama in the Final Four, and no team scored more than the Johnnies' 90 points on Dan Hurley's squad. It was the most points UConn had given up all season and, outside of its third matchup of the season against St. John's, the Crimson Tide's 72 points were the most scored against the Huskies in the tournament.

The last time UConn trailed at halftime of an NCAA Tournament game was when Pitino's Iona Gaels had a 39-37 lead in the Round of 64 last season.

St. John's and UConn were no strangers to trash talk in Rick Pitino's first season back in the Big East after the head coach said that he wanted to play the Huskies at Carnesecca Arena next season instead of Madison Square Garden.

Then, Pitino's longtime friend, Tom O'Grady, got into it with Hurley as he sat courtside during the Big East Tournament. Hurley was trying to get O'Grady removed from the game prior to halftime but he remained in his seat.

UConn has defeated Rick Pitino in each of the last four meetings and it certainly will bring a lot of intrigue when the two sides meet at least twice during the 2024-25 season.