March 08, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - University of Connecticut junior forward DeAndre Daniels (Los Angeles, Calif.) scored a team-high 17 points in a losing effort for No. 19 UConn, which fell to No. 11 Louisville, 81-48, on Saturday. The Huskies drop to 24-7 overall and 12-6 in conference play with the loss.
Montrezl Harrell scored 20 points and Russ Smith recorded a career-high 13 assists for the Cardinals, who claimed a share of the American Athletic Conference championship after the win.
Harrell added 11 rebounds and several thunderous dunks to help the Cardinals (26-5, 15-3) finish tied with No. 15 Cincinnati atop the upstart league. A postgame coin flip went to Cincinnati and left Louisville with the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament.
Smith topped his previous assist high by two, Hancock added 16 points, Van Treese grabbed 13 rebounds and Henderson added an early basket.
Louisville's defense, meanwhile, frustrated the Huskies into season-worst 29.4 percent shooting in completing the sweep. Their previous low was 29.6 percent in a loss to SMU.
Wayne Blackshear added 11 points and Chris Jones 10 as Louisville won this matchup between two of the past three NCAA champions. While the defending champion Cardinals weren't always smooth in beating the Huskies, they shot 45 percent (26 of 58) from the field and mounted second-half runs of 12-2 and 16-6 to put the game out of reach.
And just days after scoring 26 points including a career-best seven 3-pointers in a win over Rutgers, UConn senior guard Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) managed nine points on 2-of-13 shooting.
Louisville opened the game with baskets from every senior except Smith, who fed Henderson, Hancock and Montrezl Harrell, the last two resulting in three-point plays, for a 10-2 lead. UConn helped the Cardinals' start by missing its first seven shots before Daniels' jumper at the 13:24 mark made it 13-5.
In fact, Daniels (eight points) was UConn's first-half offense as Napier and junior guard Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) both missed all six shots from the field. The Huskies' shooting never warmed up in a 5-for-25 half including 0-for-8 from long range, but the Cardinals' free throw troubles prevented them from breaking the game open.
Louisville missed six straight from the line before Smith registered his first point with 2:12 left in the half, the first of five straight made attempts resulting in a 30-18 lead at the break.
Harrell's dunk with 15:28 left in the game provided a 44-27 lead that eventually grew to 34 with 91 seconds left.
The Huskies return to action Thursday when they face No. 20 Memphis in the quarterfinals of the inaugural American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament in Memphis. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPNU and heard on the UConn IMG Radio Network.