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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

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
 
3rd
TOWSN 24
NCCU 20
 
3rd
NCSU 28
PRES 0
 
Final
KAN 2
DET 3
Final
CHC 8
LOS 7
Final
OAK 0
PHI 3
Final
NYY 3
TOR 6
Final
COL 5
ARI 1
4th
BAL 2
BOS 2
 
3rd
PIT 0
MIL 0
 
4th
TAM 2
CWS 0
 
1st
MIN 0
CLE 0
 
4th
ATL 0
NYM 3
 
4th
HOU 5
SEA 1
 
4th
MIA 1
WAS 0
 
4th
STL 5
CIN 0
 
8:40pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
9:05pm Tonight
ANA
TEX
Final
WISC 68
BGU 17
Final
MSU 73
EMICH 14
Final
VT 24
GT 27
Final
PITT 20
IOWA 24
Final
RICE 42
ODU 45
Final
UGA 66
TROY 0
Final
SYR 20
MD 34
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
COL 21
HAW 12
Final
AKR 17
MARS 48
 
Final
WAKE 24
ARMY 21
Final
KU 24
CMICH 10
Final
ALA 42
UF 21
Final
FIU 3
LOU 34
 
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
 
Final
NAVY 24
RUTG 31
Final
SMU 6
TEXAM 58
3:30pm Today
MICH 10
UTAH 26
Final
BYU 41
UVA 33
Final
WYO 20
FATL 19
 
Final
MIZZ 27
IND 31
 
Final
PSU 48
UMASS 7
 
Final
MINN 24
SJST 7
 
3rd
ILL 25
TXST 21
 
3rd
WASH 7
GASTATE 14
 
2nd
SMISS 14
APPST 7
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOL 6
BST 0
2nd
OHIO 17
IDAHO 0
 
2nd
CIN 10
UMO 14
 
2nd
MEM 19
MTST 7
 
2nd
LSU 0
MSST 17
 
2nd
ARK 21
NILL 0
 
2nd
ARKST 0
UTST 7
 
3rd
SALABAMA 0
GASO 7
 
1st
WVU 7
OKLA 3
 
1st
VANDY 14
SCAR 0
 
8:00pm Tonight
FSU
CLEM
1st
NEB 0
MIAMI 0
 
1st
NMST 0
NMU 0
 
1st
HOU 0
UNLV 7
 
10:00pm Tonight
ARZ
CAL
10:30pm Tonight
BSU
LALAF
10:30pm Tonight
WASU
OREG
10:30pm Tonight
ORST
SDST
3rd
TOWSN 24
NCCU 20
 
3rd
NCSU 28
PRES 0