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NCAA Game Summary - Connecticut vs. Florida



(Saturday, April 5th)

Final Score: Connecticut 63, Florida 53

Arlington, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Connecticut shook out of its shooting funk and Florida didn't. Connecticut shared the ball and Florida didn't.

The Huskies will play for the national championship and Florida won't.

DeAndre Daniels had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Shabazz Napier scored just 12 but contributed in other ways on a night when his offensive game took a long time to warm up, and Connecticut climbed out of an early hole Saturday night to beat Florida 63-53 and advance to the NCAA title game.

The Huskies, after trailing 16-4, led for the last 22:20 of the game to snap Florida's school-record 30-game winning streak, which began after the Gators lost to UConn on Napier's buzzer-beater all the way back on Dec. 2.

Napier and the Huskies will play for their second title in four years against Kentucky on Monday night. The Wildcats edged Wisconsin 74-73 in Saturday's second game at AT&T Stadium.

Ryan Boatright scored 13 points and Niels Giffey added 11 for UConn (31-8), which made it through the East Region as a No. 7 seed and is now just one win away from its fourth national title in 16 years.

"We feel like we have been doubted the whole season," said Daniels. "But that's what drives us. ... When people say that, we like to go out and try to prove people wrong and let them know that UConn's back on top."

Patric Young scored 19 points and Casey Prather had 15 to lead Florida (36-3), the tournament's No. 1 overall seed, while SEC player of the year Scottie Wilbekin scored just four points.

The three seniors played their last game together.

"I can't really explain how I feel because it just hasn't hit me ... that we're not going to be together in the same way again," said Young. "Who knows where we're going to be in a couple of months.

"This team was so special, something I'm never going to forget for all my life. We accomplished a lot ... so I'm just really going to cherish everything that we had this year and it's going to be something I'll never forget."

The Gators had three assists on each of their first two baskets during a 7-0 run to open the game and didn't get another one until there was just 4:09 left in the game.

They stretched their lead to 16-4 before a five-minute scoring drought let the Huskies end the first half on a 21-6 run.

"We got off to a good start because our defense was good," said Florida coach Billy Donovan, who led the Gators to NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007. "I thought once they got their defense set, we had a hard time handling their pressure."

UConn didn't score until five minutes into the game, after Daniels sliced into the lane.

Napier went even longer. The American Athletic Conference player of the year didn't take a shot until 6:13 in, a missed 3-ponter. He didn't score until knocking down a 3 from the high right side with 3:52 left in the first half.

In between, Daniels and Boatright knocked down consecutive 3s, Terrence Samuel scored on an end-to-end layup and Daniels hit another 3 in an 11-0 Huskies run that changed the tone of the game and got them within a point.

UConn took its first lead on a three-point play by Giffey and Daniels scored the last of his 10 first-half points on a turn-around jumper for a 25-22 lead at halftime.

The Huskies never trailed again. They shot 55.8 percent in the game -- 63.6 percent in the second half -- and held Florida under 39 percent.

Back in the tournament after serving a one-year postseason ban over academics, the Huskies made the final in the first year they were eligible to under Kevin Ollie, playing a half-court defense the coach said was meant to make Florida uncomfortable.

"We wanted to challenge every dribble, every pass," said Ollie, the first person other than Jim Calhoun to coach UConn in an NCAA Tournament game since 1979.

The Huskies needed Napier to turn it on in their first tournament game, an 89-81 win over Saint Joseph's in which the star guard scored 19 of his 24 points after halftime.

Not this time. Napier hit a 3 for a nine-point UConn lead two minutes into the second half but had plenty of help. Boatright gave the Huskies their first double-digit lead of the game with a layup after Napier checked out.

Later, Young made consecutive hook shots -- one with each hand -- to get the Gators within four and Prather's three-point play cut it to three with 9:12 remaining.

But Samuel sliced through the lane for a left-handed layup and Napier stole the ball from Wilbekin, leading to a layup for Boatright and a 47-40 UConn lead with under seven minutes remaining.

The Gators were never closer than six after that, while UConn's lead ballooned as high as 12.

"We have been through a lot of dogfights and we continue to believe in each other," said Napier. "We didn't point fingers when we were down. We just understood that this was ... going to be a game of runs. When we were down 16-4, we just looked at each other and said we got to put the pressure on, ante up, because this could be our last 40 minutes and we didn't want that."

Florida beat Albany, Pittsburgh, UCLA and Dayton by a modest 12.3 points per game to reach the Final Four after losing in the Elite Eight each of the past three seasons. The Gators pulled away in the second half in all but one of those games.

Against UConn, Wilbekin came out for several minutes early in the second half and said later he had cramped up a little bit. The TV broadcast showed a trainer working on the guard's thigh.

"I got some ice and then it wasn't really a problem," he said.

Game Notes

Calhoun led UConn to three national titles between 1999 and 2011 but stepped aside because of health problems prior to last season, allowing Ollie to take over ... The Huskies also beat Villanova, Iowa State and Michigan State to reach the Final Four. They are 10-2 in their last 12 games, with both losses coming against conference champion Louisville.

04/05 23:59:02 ET

Other Stories

  • ACC: Clemson at NC State

    Wednesday at 9:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: NC State at Georgia Tech

    Saturday at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Arkansas at Florida

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: NC State vs. Notre Dame

    Tonight at 6:30 on WRAL-FM

  • NFL: Pro Bowl

    Tonight at 8:00 on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
STJ 68
DUKE 77
 
6:30pm Tonight
NCSU
ND
Final
CHI 84
MIA 96
4th
CLE 86
OKC 80
 
6:00pm Tonight
NOP
DAL
6:00pm Tonight
ORL
IND
6:00pm Tonight
PHO
LAC
6:00pm Tonight
ATL
MIN
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
DET
7:00pm Tonight
SAN
MIL
8:00pm Tonight
GSW
BOS
8:00pm Tonight
DEN
WAS
9:30pm Tonight
LAL
HOU
Final
UCONN 66
SFLA 53
Final
GT 62
BC 64
Final
VT 47
UVA 50
Final
OSU 82
IND 70
Final
UCF 46
CIN 56
Final
WICHS 74
DRAK 40
Final
STJ 68
DUKE 77
 
Final
MAR 73
FAIR 67
 
Final
HART 61
MAINE 70
 
Final
MAN 71
MON 64
 
Final
PRIN 96
ROWAN 48
 
Final
SIENA 55
PETE 69
 
Final
RIU 53
BONA 48
Final
BING 54
USB 61
 
Final
MLOWELL 50
VERM 61
 
Final
BUT 77
SHU 57
 
Final
SALA 55
YALE 72
 
2nd
PITT 37
LOU 50
 
2nd
ILLST 42
NIOWA 33
 
1st
GTDNS 28
UMBC 13
 
1st
IONA 17
NIAG 10
 
6:30pm Tonight
TENST
BEL
 
6:30pm Tonight
NCSU
ND
7:00pm Tonight
VILL
CREI
7:30pm Tonight
MD
NW
8:30pm Tonight
UTAH
WASH
5:00pm Tonight
TEAMFOLI
TEAMTOEWS
8:15pm Tonight
CARTER
IRVIN