UConn snaps Florida's win streak, reaches final
TribLIVE Sports Videos
ARLINGTON, Texas — Connecticut didn't wait for the final buzzer to beat Florida this time.
The Huskies, the seventh seed in the East Regional, had outstanding games on both ends of the court to beat overall No. 1 seed Florida, 63-53, on Saturday night.
The win ended Florida's 30-game winning streak, which began after the Huskies beat the Gators, 65-64, on Dec. 2 on a buzzer-beating jumper by Shabazz Napier.
Napier helped seal this game with about two minutes to play when he made two free throws for a 59-47 lead. That margin was the deficit the Huskies faced in the opening minutes after a cold-shooting start.
“We have been in a lot of dogfights,” Napier said. “We are just an experienced group. We believe in each other and continue to believe in each other. ... We are going to win. That is what we do.”
With second-year coach Kevin Ollie in a defensive stance himself most of the game, the Huskies sidetracked the Florida offense by shutting down point guard Scottie Wilbekin and 3-point specialist Michael Frazier II, who scored a combined seven points.
The Huskies were impressive on offense, shooting 55.8 percent (24 of 43) from the field against a team that allowed opponents to shoot 39.9 percent this season.
“Everybody was at Level 5, and that was the most important thing,” Ollie said. “Whomever I put in the game, it was positive, and they were productive.”
The Huskies (31-8) will Kentucky for the national championship Monday night.
DeAndre Daniels had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Connecticut, and it was his two 3-pointers in a span of 1:43 that helped ignite the Huskies after they had fallen behind 16-4.
“DeAndre was huge for us,” Ollie said. “He stepped up and really rebounded for us and was pretty much unstoppable.”
Daniels was 9 of 14 from the field.
Napier didn't dominate, but he finished with 12 points and six assists. He got the better of Wilbekin in a matchup of senior point guards, both conference players of the year.
Napier had two key second-half steals on Wilbekin, both of which led to UConn baskets. Wilbekin was bothered by cramps throughout the game.
“It was right when the second half started. I was getting a little cramp. It wasn't too bad,” Wilbekin said. “I got out of the game and got some ice, and it wasn't really a problem from then on.”
The Connecticut guards were. Florida had 11 turnovers and a season-low three assists.
“That's crazy. That's not usually what we do,” Wilbekin said. “All credit goes to them and their guards and the way they were denying and putting pressure on us.”
Patric Young had 19 points for Florida (36-3), which had won all of its NCAA Tournament games by at least 10 points. The Gators shot just 38.8 percent from the field (19 of 49), well off their 46.1 percent average.
“I thought they played extremely well. Unfortunately for us, I didn't think it was one of our better games, and I think Connecticut had a lot to do with that,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
“We got off to a very, very good start in the game, and the reason we got off to a good start was our defense was very, very good. Once they got their defense set, I thought we had a hard time dealing with their pressure up top.”
Florida was 1 for 10 from 3-point range, and the Gators' most effective weapon through most of the game was an offensive rebound off a miss. They had 12 in the game and turned them into 13 points.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Zimbabwe alleges Murrysville doctor illegally killed lion
- Rossi: Looking at the next great Steeler
- Ability to clog the trenches crucial to Steelers defense
- Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
- After early criticism, Haley has Steelers offense poised to be even better
- Penguins not alone in top-heavy approach to salary cap
- EPA diktats: Pushing back
- Shell shovels millions into proposed Beaver County plant site
- Starting 9: Examining Pirates’ deadline decisions
- Pirates notebook: New acquisition Happ more than happy to fill spot in rotation
- Steelers notebook: Injuries finally become issue at training camp