UConn’s Geno Auriemma: Paige Bueckers – not Caitlin Clark – is ‘best player in America’

UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Monday night that Paige Bueckers is actually the best player in the country after she lifted No. 3 seed UConn past No. 6 seed Syracuse to advance to the Sweet 16.

“We have the best player in America,” Auriemma said after Bueckers tallied 32 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the 72-64 win.

“Just saying that because the numbers, in this world of analytics, the numbers say that she is. And the whole stat sheet say that she is. And everybody that watched knows it. “

Geno Auriemma said Paige Bueckers is the best player in the country.

While Clark generates more headlines and attention, there certainly is an argument to be made that Bueckers is one of the few players who is comparable to Iowa’s star.

Stanford’s Cameron Brink is also on that short list, along with USC star freshman JuJu Watkins.

Clark averages 10 more points per game (31.8 to 21.8), but she also averages 22.5 shots per game compared to Buecker’s 14.9.

Bueckers, however, has better shooting percentages and is a more efficient scorer.

The redshirt senior’s field goal percentage (54 to 45.6), 3-point percentage (41.8 to 37.9) and effective field goal percentage (61.1 to 57.7) all trump Clark’s numbers.

Paige Bueckers scored 32 points to lead UConn to the Sweet 16. 3

Clark has attempted 252 more shots than Bueckers.

Clark honored as WBCA Co-Freshman of the Year - The Daily Iowan

Clark does top Bueckers in PER and win shares, as listed by sports-reference.com, but Bueckers beats her in PER per 40 minutes.

Bueckers has more steals (2.2 to 1.8) and blocks (1.4 to .5) than Clark, and guards multiple positions for a Huskies’ defense that gives up 56.5 points per game. Iowa, while playing at a faster pace, allows 71.7 points per game.

Paige Bueckers scored 32 points to lead UConn to the Sweet 16.

“The stats will tell you one thing … But it’s when they happen and how they impact the game that’s so remarkable,” Auriemma said of Bueckers, per ESPN.

“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.”

UConn has needed Bueckers this year while it has yet again dealt with injuries, and the Huskies now have a Sweet 16 date on tap Saturday with No. 7 seed Duke in the Portland 3 Region.

Watkins and the Trojans are the top seed in the region.

The Huskies’ season ended last year in the Sweet 16, albeit without Bueckers.

“We’re fortunate and we get to go back to where it ended last year,” Auriemma said. “I think we’re a different team, different mindset and we’re hoping for a different outcome.”

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