UConn senior guard Shabazz Napier scored seven points in the final five minutes to help the Huskies defeat No. 17 Memphis Thursday night.
January 16, 2014
MEMPHIS, Tenn.- The University of Connecticut men's basketball team used a late push and defeated No. 17-ranked Memphis by a 83-73 score of 18,039 at the FedExForum on Thursday night. The Huskies improve to 14-3 overall and 2-2 in American Athletic Conference play while Memphis is 12-4 and 3-2.
Junior forward DeAndre Daniels (Los Angeles, Calif.) had 23 points and a career-high 11 rebounds and senior guard Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) added 17 points in the win. "This was the first one we needed to get," UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said.
The Huskies outscored Memphis 8-2 in the final minute to secure their third straight win.
"That was definitely a big one," Napier said. "We hit that little slump where we were not really second-guessing who we were, but trying to figure out how good we really are. Everybody came to play (against Memphis). ... That second half we proved to ourselves that we are a good team."
Daniels was nine of 15 from the field, including four for five from outside the arc, and UConn shot 57 percent - 61 percent after halftime. Graduate student forward Lasan Kromah (Greenbelt, Md.) finished with 13 points, making all five attempts. Daniels scored 18 points in the second half.
"I felt like when I was in there in the first half, I wasn't as aggressive as I was in the second half," Daniels said. "On the pick-and-pops, I felt like I was open a lot, and I hesitated and I didn't shoot the ball."
The game was close most of the way, with three ties and 13 lead changes. The 10-point margin at the end was the biggest advantage for either team.
"We slowed up the game a little bit to put it to our pace," Napier said of the stretch run. "There were a couple of times where I had the ball and I told the guys to just relax, we're going to get the right shot. I think that helped us out. "It just shows how intelligent this group of players are."
It was a game of rallies and lead changes, and UConn had the final burst - led by Napier. He scored eight points in the final five minutes after the teams were tied at 62.
"They hit some tough shots," Memphis guard Geron Johnson said. "They were a more focused team, and they were better than us. We didn't hit those shots down the stretch in the game. We have to focus more like they did."
Both teams went on runs in the first half before the Tigers carried a 40-39 lead into the break, despite a three-pointer by junior guard Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) in the waning seconds of the half.
While no Connecticut players were in double figures, the Huskies were shooting at a 54 percent clip.
Dixon already had 12 points for the Tigers, who managed just 42 percent shooting but were five of eight from three-point range, with Dixon at two of 3.
The Huskies opened the second half by outscoring Memphis 10-2, including eight points by Daniels. UConn was ahead 49-42 when Memphis coach Josh Pastner called a timeout to see if he could get his team back on track. When the Tigers came out with consecutive threes by Johnson and Chris Crawford, Ollie called a timeout of his own.
The teams stayed close from there until the Huskies put together the final rally.
UConn has a quick return to action when it takes on No. 18-ranked Louisville at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday at Gampel Pavilion. The game will be televised by ESPN and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network. ESPN GameDay will also be on hand for pregame, halftime and postgame coverage.