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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
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
Final
TOWSN 31
NCCU 20
 
Final
NCSU 42
PRES 0
 
1:30pm Today
CAR
CLB
 
8:30pm Tonight
CAR
PIT
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
Final
BAL 7
BOS 2
Final
PIT 0
MIL 1
Final
TAM 3
CWS 1
Final
MIN 3
CLE 7
Final
ATL 2
NYM 4
Final
HOU 10
SEA 1
Final
MIA 2
WAS 3
Final
STL 8
CIN 4
Final
SDP 3
SFG 2
Final
ANA 8
TEX 5
1:05pm Today
NYY
TOR
 
1:10pm Today
MIA
WAS
 
1:35pm Today
BAL
BOS
 
1:35pm Today
PIT
MIL
 
1:35pm Today
ATL
NYM
 
1:40pm Today
TAM
CWS
 
2:10pm Today
MIN
CLE
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
DET
 
2:10pm Today
HOU
SEA
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
LOS
 
3:35pm Today
ANA
TEX
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
PHI
 
4:10pm Today
COL
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
SDP
SFG
 
8:05pm Tonight
STL
CIN
 
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
Final
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
Final
ILL 42
TXST 35
Final
WASH 45
GASTATE 14
Final
SMISS 21
APPST 20
Final
TOL 34
BST 23
Final
OHIO 36
IDAHO 24
Final
CIN 31
UMO 24
Final
MEM 36
MTST 17
Final
LSU 29
MSST 34
Final
ARK 52
NILL 14
Final
ARKST 21
UTST 14
Final
SALABAMA 6
GASO 28
Final
WVU 33
OKLA 45
Final
VANDY 34
SCAR 48
Final
NEB 41
MIAMI 31
Final
NMST 35
NMU 38
Final
HOU 47
UNLV 14
Final
FSU 23
CLEM 17
Final
ARZ 49
CAL 45
Final
ORST 28
SDST 7
Final
WASU 31
OREG 38
Final
BSU 34
LALAF 9
1:30pm Today
CAR
CLB
 
5:00pm Tonight
WAS
BUF
 
6:30pm Tonight
CLB
STL
 
8:00pm Tonight
EDM
CAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
CAL
EDM
 
1:00pm Today
CLE
BAL
1:00pm Today
STL
DAL
1:00pm Today
DET
GBP
1:00pm Today
NYG
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
IND
1:00pm Today
NOS
MIN
1:00pm Today
NEP
OAK
1:00pm Today
BUF
SDC
1:00pm Today
CIN
TEN
1:00pm Today
PHI
WAS
4:05pm Today
ARI
SFX
4:25pm Today
SEA
DEN
4:25pm Today
MIA
KAN
8:30pm Tonight
CAR
PIT
Final
TOWSN 31
NCCU 20
 
Final
NCSU 42
PRES 0