BOSTON — Top-seeded UConn continued to destroy whatever was in its NCAA Tournament path Saturday by dismantling No. 3 Illinois in the East Regional final at TD Garden.

And Donovan Clingan was the poster boy of UConn’s demolition derby.

Clingan took the game over at both ends of the court as the Fighting Illini had no answer for the 7-foot-2 sophomore center, who was named the regional’s Most Outstanding Player after UConn’s resounding 77-52 victory. He poured in a game-high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while he also swatted away five shots.

It certainly was not a bad time for Clingan to turn in an utterly dominant performance as the Huskies punched their ticket to next week’s Final Four.

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“It was unbelievable,” UConn forward Alex Karaban said. “It was one of his best performances ever. He’s dunking everything, blocking everything. He really just showed how dominant he can be.”

Clingan was the catalyst to a wild 30-0 UConn run that really took off in the second half with the Huskies scoring the first 25 points of the stanza. He scored effortlessly around the basket time and time again and was a defensive menace to help hold the Fighting Illini scoreless for the first seven-plus minutes of the half.

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Clingan had the defining sequence of the contest amid the massive tear as well. He emphatically rejected 6-foot-8 forward Quincy Guerrier at the rim before throwing down a dunk on the ensuing trip down the floor.

Clingan was Illinois’ worst nightmare, one it could never wake up from, too. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Fighting Illini were 0-for-19 on shots contested by Clingan.

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“He’s good. He did his job,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said. “Doesn’t everybody have him projected in the lottery or close to it? He does a great job of protecting the rim.”

It really couldn’t have played out any better for Clingan as he was at the forefront of another memorable UConn win in the NCAA Tournament.

 “I grew up dreaming of playing for the University of Connecticut,” Clingan said. “So to be able to wear this jersey every single day and play for such a historic and special program and insert myself and my teammates inserting themselves into history, it’s special.

“Everybody dreams of this as a young basketball player, and there’s only a certain percentage of people that make it to this level. Don’t take any moment for granted, go out, give it everything you’ve got, and I’m extremely blessed to be in this position.”

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Here are more notes from Saturday’s UConn-Illinois game:

— The other four players joining Clingan on the East Regional All-Tournament team were UConn guards Cam Spencer and Stephon Castle, Illinois guard Terrence Shannon Jr. and San Diego State forward Jaedon LeDee.

— Karaban returned close to home and accomplished his mission of cutting down the nets at TD Garden. The Southborough, Mass., native scored 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting in the win.

“It meant a lot for me,” Karaban said. “It’s not really going to hit me right now. When I get back to my room tonight, I’ll probably get emotional just because I love this arena, I love everything about Boston. It’s really my favorite city. To do it in my favorite city and do it pretty much in my hometown, it’s going to hit me hard.”

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— UConn head coach Dan Hurley felt the Huskies were disrespected heading into the matchup. Hurley referenced a social media post from former Illinois player turned ESPN analyst Sean Harrington, who believed the Fighting Illini’s physicality and the play of Shannon could be problems for the Huskies.

“One of the staff members wanted to add a little more fuel to my fire, a little something,” Hurley said. “… Statements like that are just asinine. You’re going against beasts and monsters every night in the Big East, and the Big East prepared us for teams like Illinois.”

— Shannon was the star of Illinois’ postseason run, averaging 28.3 points in the NCAA Tournament coming into the showdown with UConn. But the Huskies’ defense swallowed him up, limiting Shannon to eight points on 2-for-12 shooting.

— UConn fans took over TD Garden due to the close proximity to the school’s Storrs, Conn., campus. Hurley had a moment with them late in the second half following a timeout, pumping up his arms in celebration.

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“Our fan base, again, is obnoxious as (expletive) on social (media). So everyone hates us,” Hurley said. “It was a chance to celebrate with them because our fan base and our organization right now, it’s an us against the world of college basketball and I wanted to celebrate with them a little bit.”

— Actors Larry David and Billy Murray were both in the stands taking in the action.

Featured image via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images