April 2, 2014
DALLAS - The University of Connecticut men's basketball team returns to the Final Four for the fifth time in program history on Saturday, April 5 when it challenges top-seeded Florida at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Tip-off is set for 6:09 p.m. with televised coverage on TBS and a live radio broadcast on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network.
The Huskies (30-8) are set to make their third Final Four appearance in the last six years, following a 60-54 victory over Michigan State on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. Senior guard Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.), who was tabbed as an AP First Team All-American earlier this week, tallied a game-high 25 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Junior forward DeAndre Daniels (Los Angeles, Calif.) notched 12 points and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds in the victory. The Huskies connected on all18 of their free-throw attempts in the second half and held the Spartans to just 39.1 percent shooting from the floor.
With his 25 points, Napier moved into fourth place, passing Ray Allen (1994-96), on UConn's all-time scoring list with 1,925 points. The senior, who recently played in his program-best 141st game, continues to etch his name into the history books, ranking second in Husky history in steals (244) and made three-pointers (254), while sitting in third in assists (637).
The Huskies, who are playing as a No. 7 seed for the first time, are 36-8 in their last 44 NCAA Tournament games and 56-29 overall in 32 tournament appearances. With their victory over MSU in the Elite Eight, the Huskies secured the ninth-ever 30-win season in program history and first under current head coach Kevin Ollie.
Florida, which finished the regular season ranked as the No. 1 team in the AP Top-25 poll, is in the midst of a 30-game winning streak. UConn handed the Gators their last loss on Dec. 2 at Gampel Pavilion, winning, 65-64, on a buzzer-beater from Napier. The Gators are led offensively by SEC Player of the Year Scottie Wilbekin, who averages 13.4 points and 3.7 assists per game. Senior forward Patric Young, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, has been a force in the paint for Florida this season, averaging 10.8 ppg and 6.2 rpg.
Ollie, who sports a 50-18 (.735) record through his first two years, has the highest win percentage of any UConn head coach who has coached more than 20 games. He joins Jim Calhoun as the only Connecticut coaches to lead the program to a Final Four appearance.