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17  Connecticut213960
19  Michigan State252954
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54


NCAA Game Summary - Connecticut vs. Michigan State



(Sunday, March 30th)

Final Score: Connecticut 60, Michigan State 54

New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - In 2011, Connecticut rode an incredible individual stretch from their point guard all the way to a national championship.

Three years later, the Huskies are back in the Final Four, and in no small part due to the efforts of their current floor general.

Shabazz Napier put up 25 points and six rebounds while carrying Connecticut in the second half, and the Huskies punched their ticket to North Texas with a 60-54 decision over Michigan State in the East Region final in front of a pro- Huskies crowd at Madison Square Garden.

Seventeen of Napier's points came after halftime, and seven were amassed during a pivotal 12-0 run that turned UConn's nine-point deficit into a 35-32 lead with under 12 minutes left.

The senior standout later sealed the Huskies' advancement by sinking all three free throws after being fouled by Keith Appling on a long-distance attempt, giving UConn a 56-51 lead with 30.6 seconds left.

"You could just see it, he wasn't going to let his team lose," Spartans guard Gary Harris said of Napier. "He's a winner and he willed his team to victory."

DeAndre Daniels added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Huskies (30-8), who became only the second-ever No. 7 seed to reach the Final Four. They certainly earned the trip, knocking off second-seeded Villanova and third-seeded Iowa State prior to downing the Big Ten Tournament champion Spartans.

The Huskies now get a rematch with No. 1 overall seed Florida, whom UConn dealt a 65-64 loss in Storrs on Dec. 2, in Saturday's national semifinal at AT&T Stadium. The Gators have ripped off a school-record 30 straight wins since that result.

"We're going to be well prepared, because I know about these guys' heart, and that's what got us through," Huskies head coach Kevin Ollie said. "It was a heart of a champion, heart of a lion, and I love these guys."

While Napier put forth a performance reminiscent of former teammate Kemba Walker's amazing five-game run that catapulted the Huskies to a surprise 2011 Big East Tournament title in the same building, Michigan State's senior point guard endured an outing to forget. Appling managed just two points and four turnovers before fouling out on his ill-advised late hack of Napier in the final stages.

Appling, along with forward Adreian Payne, became the first four-year players in head coach Tom Izzo's 19-year tenure at Michigan State to never reach a Final Four.

Payne tallied 13 points and nine rebounds, but shot just 4-of-14 from the floor, and the fourth-seeded Spartans (29-9) were also hurt by 16 turnovers that the Huskies converted into 18 points.

"Unfortunately we did not bring our 'A' game today, and we got what we deserved today," said Izzo. "I tried to tell these guys that when you get to the Tournament, you've got to bring it every second. And today Connecticut did and we just kind of weren't as good as we have been."

Harris was Michigan State's lone consistent scoring threat, finishing with 22 points while knocking down four 3-pointers.

The Spartans owned a 32-23 lead with 16 1/2 minutes remaining following five straight points from Payne, but went scoreless on eight consecutive possessions thereafter as Connecticut came roaring back.

Napier buried a triple to ignite the Huskies' tide-turning 12-0 tear, then later hit four straight free throws before Daniels came through with a 3-point play that gave UConn a 35-32 edge with 11:46 to go.

"Coach told to us keep our composure," said Napier. "They made their run and it was time for us to make ours. And when Coach looks at me a certain way, I just know I got to be more aggressive, and I got to open shots when my teammates got me the ball and we just kept running. And guys were just making shots."

The Huskies kept on rolling, with Napier answering a Harris three with one of his own and feeding Niels Giffey for a run-out slam on Connecticut's next trip down the court for a 46-39 advantage with 7:37 left. A Ryan Boatright trey just over a minute later had the Huskies ahead by double digits.

Michigan State closed the gap behind consecutive 3-pointers from Denzel Valentine and Harris, and later pulled within 51-49 on Appling's lone bucket of the game -- a tough left-handed layup with 2:38 to go.

It was still a two-point differential when Appling got a piece of Napier's right arm on the latter's try from beyond the arc with 30.6 seconds on the clock. Napier calmly drained all three bonus attempts before Phillip Nolan put the game away for Connecticut with a transition dunk that came after the Spartans' Travis Trice was off the mark from 3-point range.

The Spartans also started the contest ice-cold, misfiring on eight of their first nine field goal attempts as Connecticut opened on a 12-2 run, but reversed the momentum with a 12-4 surge and later grabbed their first lead of the day when the second of back-to-back Harris 3-pointers created a 22-21 score with 3:28 left in the first half.

Harris' two treys were at the forefront of a 9-0 tear the Spartans closed out the half on, with a Valentine three in the final seconds sending Michigan State into the break up by a 25-21 count.

The Spartans' rally was aided by a prolonged offensive drought by the Huskies, who went a dismal 3-for-21 from the field over the remainder of the first half after beginning the game 5-for-8. UConn failed to score over the final 5:27 of the period.

Game Notes

Virginia had been the only previous No. 7 seed to reach the Final Four, doing so in 1984 ... The Spartans lost for only the second time in eight Elite Eight matchups under Izzo, with the lone other defeat coming to Texas in the 2003 tourney ... Michigan State fell to 3-12 all-time at Madison Square Garden and dropped a 64-60 decision to Georgetown there on Feb. 1 ... The schools last met in Germany in the 2012-13 opener for both, with Connecticut posting a 66-62 in Ollie's first game as head coach ... Napier set a UConn record by playing his 141st career game and moved past NBA star Ray Allen for fourth place on the Huskies' all-time scoring list. Napier now has 1,925 career points.

03/30 20:25:46 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCSU 79
JVU 43
 
Final
ECU 92
VULYNCH 51
 
3rd
DUKE 7
UNC 35
 
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
CAR
3rd
MIA 61
LAC 82
 
10:30pm Tonight
SAC
CHI
4th
WVU 10
KST 23
 
3rd
DUKE 7
UNC 35
 
1st
TXST 0
ARKST 0
 
Final
AKR 66
USC 46
Final
UCONN 65
COC 57
Final
MIAMI 66
DREX 46
Final
BC 69
NMU 65
Final
CHAR 106
PSU 97
Final
MICH 71
DET 62
Final
WMARY 100
BFLD 57
 
Final
USCU 107
BOBJONES 41
 
Final
UCF 76
ECKERD 59
 
Final
PURD 82
GRAM 30
 
Final
NCSU 79
JVU 43
 
Final
RFLSH 102
KEYSTONE 69
 
Final
VCU 106
MDES 66
Final
PROV 88
NAVY 51
 
Final
BRY 72
UNH 63
 
Final
PETE 59
NIAG 61
 
Final
STET 96
PBAT 85
 
Final
WAGN 83
SUNYWEST 49
 
Final
IOWA 57
TEX 71
 
Final
TENN 70
TXSOU 58
 
Final
SHU 54
MLOWELL 57
 
Final
ECU 92
VULYNCH 51
 
Final
TENNM 115
CBC 29
 
Final
MD 66
FORD 50
 
Final
WVU 91
GMAS 65
 
Final
RAD 61
HOW 52
 
Final
MURST 89
BRESCIA 56
 
2nd
VILL 59
BUCK 59
 
2nd
TENST 67
FISK 56
 
Final
HARV 71
FATL 49
 
2nd
MINN 109
FRANKPRCE 57
 
2nd
TULA 91
MVSU 54
 
2nd
TCU 78
NO 53
 
2nd
NW 69
UNF 67
 
2nd
LSUALEX 79
NWST 85
 
2nd
IND 63
SMU 61
 
2nd
UAB 53
SFLA 55
 
2nd
EILL 59
UCD 62
 
2nd
SAV 41
WINT 41
 
2nd
NIOWA 44
MRGST 41
 
2nd
MISS 37
SOUTH 15
 
2nd
SCAR 52
CORN 27
 
Half
VANDY 40
LIP 25
 
Half
ARST 28
LMU 22
 
Half
ALA 38
SMISS 30
 
1st
GRCN 29
TXARL 24
 
1st
NILL 14
IDAHO 11
 
1st
CAL 11
SYR 8
 
10:00pm Tonight
GAELS
DEN
10:00pm Tonight
NARZ
FRES
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
PACU
 
10:30pm Tonight
SDST
CALST
11:00pm Tonight
UCLA
NICST
 
2nd Intermission
PHI 1
MIN 1
 
3rd
OTT 3
NAS 2
 
3rd
MON 4
STL 1
 
3rd
TOR 4
TAM 1
 
2nd Intermission
WIN 3
DET 2
 
2nd
DAL 0
ARI 1
 
1st Intermission
CAL 2
CHI 2
 
1st Intermission
COL 0
WAS 0
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
ANA
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
CAR
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
FLA
Half
OAK 14
KAN 3