Stay Connected


Connecticut players celebrate against Florida in the final moments of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. Connecticut won 63-53. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Florida center Patric Young (4) and Connecticut forward DeAndre Daniels (2) go after the ball during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Connecticut guard Terrence Samuel celebrates against Florida during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Connecticut guard Ryan Boatright (11) celebrates as he walks down court against Florida during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Connecticut players celebrate against Florida in the final moments of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. Connecticut won 63-53. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Connecticut players celebrate at the end of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Florida Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. Connecticut won 63-53. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Florida forward Will Yeguete, left, and Connecticut forward Phillip Nolan, right, eye a made basket during the first half of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Connecticut guard Terrence Samuel, left, and Florida center Patric Young eye a rebound during the first half of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie urges his team on during the first half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Florida Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Florida head coach Billy Donovan reacts during the first half of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Connecticut Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Connecticut guard Terrence Samuel (3) shoots against Florida during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin drills during practice for an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Friday, April 4, 2014, in Dallas. Florida plays Connecticut on Saturday, April 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Connecticut cheerleaders perform before an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Florida Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Florida players huddle on the court before an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Connecticut Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Chris Daughtry sings the national anthem before an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game between Florida and Connecticut, Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Florida cheerleaders perform during the first half of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Connecticut Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Florida cheerleaders perform during the first half of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Connecticut Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Florida cheerleaders perform during the first half of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Connecticut Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Florida forward Casey Prather shoots as Connecticut forward Phillip Nolan (0) and Florida's Patric Young (4) look on during the first half of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Chris Steppig, Pool) Florida cheerleaders perform during the first half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Connecticut Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Florida cheerleaders perform during the first half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Connecticut Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Florida cheerleaders perform during the first half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Connecticut Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Connecticut cheerleaders sit court side during the first half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Florida Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Florida guard Kasey Hill (0) takes the ball down court as Connecticut guard Ryan Boatright (11) defends during the first half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Fans look on during the first half of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game between Connecticut and Florida Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Fans look on during the first half of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game between Connecticut and Florida Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Fans look on before an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game between Connecticut and Florida Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Fans look on during the first half of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game between Connecticut and Florida Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Connecticut forward DeAndre Daniels (2) shoots between Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) and guard Scottie Wilbekin (5) during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Connecticut forward DeAndre Daniels (2) controls the ball as Florida forward Will Yeguete (15) defends during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Connecticut guard Terrence Samuel (3) shoots against Florida during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Chris Steppig, pool) Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier (13) loses the ball as Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin (5) defends during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Florida center Patric Young dunks against Connecticut during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

UConn upsets Florida, advances to national title game


ARLINGTON, Texas — Connecticut’s 2011 national championship has been characterized as a one-man effort by Kemba Walker. Good as he was, he still needed help from teammates like Jeremy Lamb, Alex Oriakhi and Shabazz Napier.

Now that it’s Napier’s turn, the same gotta-have-help method has applied — this time with DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright taking turns at the wheel.

Daniels carried UConn out of an early funk, Boatright bulled around Florida’s guard at both ends and the Huskies are headed back to the national championship game after a 63-53 victory over the Gators in the Final Four Saturday night.

Daniels had 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting and 10 rebounds, and Boatright finished with 13 points to help finish off Florida’s 30-game winning streak and send the seventh-seeded Huskies back into the title game.

“We’ve been saying all year that we’ve got a complete team,” Boatright said. “It’s not a one-man team. It’s not a two-man team. We’ve got a complete team.”

Napier has been UConn’s unquestioned leader and had a solid night after a slow start, finishing with 12 points, six assists and four steals.

But stars often need an occasional lift from their sidekicks, and Daniels and Boatright both did that against Florida (36-3).

Daniels, the talented-but-sometimes-inconsistent forward, helped the Huskies (31-8) dig out of an early hole by scoring inside and out. He also hit a couple of big shots down the stretch to prevent the Gators from mounting a comeback.

Boatright was like a bulldog all night, consistently getting inside Florida’s defense and combining with Napier to hold ailing Gators star Scottie Wilbekin (cramps) to four points and one assist.

“I don’t know if you all keep thinking it’s a one-man team, but it’s not,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “Shabazz is the first one to tell you and I keep telling everybody it’s not just him.”

During the 2011 run, Walker was the unquestioned lead Husky.

But Lamb had some big scoring games during the title run, Oriakhi manhandled opposing big men in the paint and Napier, the confident-but-still-learning freshman, chipped in to earn a championship ring.

This has been Napier’s team from the start and he’s come through as a star player should, including a game-winning jumper to beat Florida back on Dec. 2 — the Gators’ last loss.

In the rematch, Napier had a hard time with Florida’s aggressive switching on defense, unable to find seams into the lane. UConn fell into holes of 7-0 and 16-4, and Napier didn’t score until hitting a 3-pointer with 3:54 left in the first half.

Daniels led the charge back.

The junior has shown off flashes of his athleticism some games, disappearing in others.

It’s been nothing but the good Daniels in the NCAA tournament, though, including a 27-point, 10-rebound game against Iowa State in Sweet 16.

Spurred by a conversation with former UConn coach Jim Calhoun before the national semifinal game, Daniels was at his active best, sailing in for a dunk during an 11-0 run and dropping in a pair of 3-pointers in the first half.

Daniels continued to be a matchup problem for Florida in the second half, hitting a long jumper that put the Huskies up 57-47 with 2 1/2 minutes left. He became the first player since Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony to have 20 points and 10 rebounds in the national semifinals.

“I talked to Coach Calhoun and he was like, ‘Man, nobody is talking about you,’” Daniels said. “All I said was not to worry about it because everybody was going to be talking about me after today.”

Boatright, too.

The junior has been interchangeable with Napier in the backcourt, playing shooting guard when Napier runs the point, leading the team when Napier shifts to the two spot or heads to the bench. He also turned into UConn’s point-guard stopper, hounding the opposing team’s floor leader into mistakes.

Boatright had a quiet first half before starting to find seams in Florida’s defense. He got to the rim a few times without much hassle against the long Gators and was able to find open shooters when they did cut off his drives.

Behind Boatright and Daniels, UConn scored all but two of its baskets inside the lane.

Boatright also helped lead the charge against Wilbekin, adding to his cramping woes by combining with Napier to hound his every step.

“It all starts with Boatright,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said of UConn’s defense. “He does a great job of pressuring the ball.”

When it was over, the Huskies again were underdogs headed to the national championship — thanks to a pair of sidekicks helping the star get there.

Boxscore

UCONN 63, FLORIDA 53

UCONN (31-8)

Nolan 0-1 1-2 1, Daniels 9-14 0-0 20, Giffey 4-7 3-3 11, Boatright 5-9 2-2 13, Napier 3-6 4-4 12, Samuel 2-2 0-0 4, Olander 0-1 0-0 0, Kromah 0-1 0-0 0, Brimah 1-2 0-2 2. Totals 24-43 10-13 63.

FLORIDA (36-3)

Young 7-13 5-8 19, Wilbekin 2-9 0-0 4, Yeguete 0-2 2-2 2, Frazier II 1-3 0-0 3, Prather 6-10 3-5 15, Hill 2-6 3-4 7, Finney-Smith 1-6 1-1 3, C. Walker 0-0 0-0 0, D. Walker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-49 14-20 53.

Halftime—UConn 25-22. 3-Point Goals—UConn 5-12 (Napier 2-3, Daniels 2-5, Boatright 1-2, Giffey 0-2), Florida 1-10 (Frazier II 1-3, Yeguete 0-1, Finney-Smith 0-3, Wilbekin 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—UConn 28 (Daniels 10), Florida 27 (Prather 6). Assists—UConn 12 (Napier 6), Florida 3 (Finney-Smith, Prather, Wilbekin 1). Total Fouls—UConn 16, Florida 14. A—NA.



Back to NationalSports
Top Stories of the Week

Man charged in March drug raid arrested again by Meriden …
MERIDEN — Police surveillance led to the arrest of two people on drug charges last week, including a 25-year-old city man previously arrested in March … more ...

Meriden man accused of “groping” co-worker in Cheshire …
CHESHIRE — A Meriden man accused of “groping” a co-worker was released on $10,000 bond and is due to appear in court next week, police … more ...

Last copper beech planted by prominent Meriden industrialist cut down …
MERIDEN — The last of three European copper beech trees planted along Broad Street 150 years ago by prominent industrialist Jebediah Wilcox was cut down … more ...

Vacant Meriden market sold to Durham investor …
MERIDEN — The former George’s East Side Market and Deli on South Curtis Street has been sold to a Durham investor who plans to renovate … more ...

Meriden man sentenced to 25 years in prison for assault …
HARTFORD — A Meriden man involved in an assault that left one man permanently disabled and another seriously injured has been sentenced to serve 25 … more ...

Comments