daniels

No. 7 UConn advances to fourth NCAA tournament title game

6 Comments

ARLINGTON, Texas — With 9:07 remaining in the first half of Saturday’s national semifinal matchup with No. 1 Florida, No. 7 UConn had managed to score just four points. Leading scorer Shabazz Napier had yet to score, and outside of points at the rim scored by DeAndre Daniels and Amida Brimah the Huskies enjoyed no success on the offensive end of the floor. In need of a boost head coach Kevin Ollie went to a three point guard lineup, inserting freshman Terrence Samuel.

The move turned the tide of the contest, one that UConn would ultimately go on to win by the final score of 63-53. As a result the program will make its fourth national title game appearance Monday night, with this being the first under second-year head coach Kevin Ollie.

Daniels, who has been outstanding all tournament long, paced the Huskies with 20 points to go along with ten rebounds. And despite getting off to that slow start UConn finished the game shooting 56% from the field, taking control of the game and getting many of the quality looks they desired throughout the night.

MORE: UConn beats Florida by … playing like Florida?

Four starters finished the game in double figures, and as a team UConn outscored Florida 36-24 in the paint. While the first meeting between these two teams, a 65-64 UConn win on December 2, can’t be relied for too much it should be noted that the Gators held a 32-14 advantage in paint points on that night.

Florida struggled mightily offensively, shooting 39% from the field and 1-for-10 from beyond the arc. Michael Frazier II was responsible for the lone made three but he was unable to shake free of the UConn defense, attempting just three shots on the night. Frazier and Scottie Wilbekin combined to score just eight points, and that had a major impact on the outcome.

Without the inside-out balance that made the Gators the favorite to cut down the nets this weekend, Billy Donovan’s team was unable to muster up enough offensive production to derail the red-hot Huskies.

“On offense, we just couldn’t really get anything going,” Wilbekin said. “They were being really aggressive and we couldn’t really get into our offense. We weren’t moving the ball as well, and a couple of us were having bad shooting nights.”

As stated earlier the Huskies have made three prior appearances in the title game, winning all three (1999, 2004 and 2011). And given the way Daniels and his teammates have played in reaching this point, UConn is is more than capable of making it 4-for-4.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
1 Comment

Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Leave a comment

Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: