The first 10 minutes was all Florida, 16-4. We all thought at that point, well another rout–time to get something good to eat.
Not so fast, but the UConn Huskies showed the heart of a lion and clawed their way back. But and I mean a big BUT–it was not all Shabazz Napier that made it happen:
With Napier bothered by some sore knees and having to sit some key minutes on the bench, the Huskies received some key help courtesy of two threes from DeAndre Daniels, one long distance shot from Ryan Boatright and a coast-to-coast layup by Terrence Samuel. The Huskies closed the first stanza on a 21-9 run, as their lead was only 25-22 at the half.
The second half mirrored at times their 2011 title game win also in Texas against Butler. DeAndre Daniels made a dunk with 14:15 to play that stretched the lead to 35-27. But Napier completely shredded the Gators’ defense by throwing perfect diagonal passes towards the basket, where Daniels was able to finish off for some easy baskets. A double-double for Daniels on the night finishing up with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Patric Young had plenty of dunks, but the rest of the Gators had an off night and simply picked the wrong time to have their worst shooting performance of the season.
The Huskies shot 55 percent for the game, 24 of 43 (5 of 12 from three-point range), while the Gators only made 19 of 49 (38%) from the floor and an anemic 1 of 10 from long distance. Florida Coach Billy Donovan suffered his first loss in the national semifinals after winning his first three times during 2000, 2006, and 2007.
This also means, for the first time since 2011…that no number one seed reaches the title game.
That year, UConn was a 3 and Butler was an 8 seed.
This year’s UConn squad becomes the first ever 7 seed to reach the championship game.
One other small note, Phil Dawson of Madison radio is on the sideline for the Badgers Teamcast on TruTV.
More later on the contrasting styles of Kentucky and Wisconsin, quite a barnburner of a contest.