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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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Final
PHO 120
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Final
LAL 93
MEM 99
7:30pm Tonight
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Final
UNC 66
BUT 74
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FRES 64
MAR 68
Final
CHAT 61
RMU 46
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EMICH 68
ROCH 35
 
Final
MRGST 51
LIB 50
 
Final
HAMP 60
AMER 64
 
Final
BEL 78
DEN 57
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UMASS 79
NE 54
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JMU 79
SHU 72
 
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KNST 84
SAMF 71
 
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ECU 73
HAW 75
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CHAM 60
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CCAR 61
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OKLA 75
UCLA 65
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ELON 65
UNF 72
 
Final
UWMIL 66
ORU 69
Final
WCU 66
CHIST 61
Final
DUKE 93
FUR 54
Final
BYU 85
PURD 87
Final
EVAN 79
USF 72
Final
COL 71
GTDNS 75
 
Final
VERM 73
BRY 47
 
Final
OSU 91
CAMP 64
Final
LOU 45
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Final
UCF 69
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IONA 126
DELST 76
 
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Final
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GOUCHER 43
 
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ND 81
GRAM 54
 
Final
YALE 82
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Final
GWU 91
LONG 66
 
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VT 78
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Final
WAKE 83
MNTER 49
 
Final
NAVY 67
PSUHARRIS 42
 
Final
NCSU 84
RICH 72
Final
MINN 61
STJ 70
Final
JVU 69
TRINBAPT 57
 
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YOUNG 66
UMKC 63
 
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UAB 43
WISC 72
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CORN 67
CAN 60
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WVU 103
VMI 72
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DEP 74
LEH 86
 
Final
UNT 67
MVSU 52
 
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MORE 77
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TCU 74
RAD 50
 
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SELA 86
TENT 65
 
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SMU 72
TXSOU 59
 
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UTAH 85
TXPA 48
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LMU 66
UCR 62
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SCAR 89
UNCA 75
 
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SD 86
WAYNEST 69
 
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PITT 70
KYST 47
Final
UWGB 59
FLGC 45
Final
IOWA 70
NILL 49
Final
ORST 69
AUB 71
Final
MONT 75
CARROLLMT 52
 
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SUTAH 64
EKENT 73
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NMST 78
FAM 33
 
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WYO 65
STET 41
 
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EWASH 81
NKENTUCKY 60
 
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IDST 57
WLVRN 60
 
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GEOR 66
UF 65
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GONZ 88
UGA 76
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NW 42
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CAL 72
CPSL 52
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UCD 77
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SDST 59
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NDAK 75
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CSNO 55
PORST 63
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AKAN 62
PAC 71
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OKST 73
TULSA 58
Final
COLST 76
MIZST 61
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12:00pm Today
RMU
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1:00pm Today
BUT
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2:30pm Today
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2:30pm Today
RIU
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3:30pm Today
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USB
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4:30pm Today
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INDST
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6:00pm Tonight
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UNC
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UF
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11:00pm Tonight
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MEM
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UCSB
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Final
NYI 3
WAS 2
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BUF 1
WIN 2
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FLA 1
CAR 0
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TAM 4
NYR 3
Final
DET 5
PHI 2
Final
PIT 4
TOR 3
Final
MIN 0
LOS 4
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COL 2
CHI 3
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SJS 0
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