This game was a battle of wills. UConn’s perimeter and fast break to Florida’s lane busting pick and roll. Both teams traded blows early on. Napier, Boatright, Giffey and Daniels had their jumpers working and stymied Florida’s swarming defense while the Gators were able to drive into the lane and decimate Connecticut’s frontcourt. Florida’s trapping defense caused problems for UConn and they were able to take control of the game by attacking the paint, scoring 22 points there. They focused much of their offense into driving into the lane or passing into the post, only taking nine 3-pointers to UConn’s twenty-four. The constant pressure in the paint had both Olander and Nolan foul out and allowed Florida to out-rebound UConn by eight. Unfortunately for Florida, their primary ball handler, Wilbekin, twisted his ankle, falling on Boatright’s foot, and had to miss the final two minutes in a tight ball game. Patric Young stepped up though and made an incredible three point play, but this night belonged to Napier. He made a four-point play and then in the final seconds split the defense, kept his dribble alive, and barely caught iron. Daniels put a hand on the rebound and it tipped it back to Napier who made a fifteen-foot jumper to end the game.
Napier played aggressive right from the tip and had two 3-pointers and two jumpers in the first half. He continued to shoot the ball well in the second half with a 3-pointer, a steal & lay-up, another 3-pointer, before getting a deep-3 plus the foul in which he got injured, and then ended his night with a jumper at the buzzer. He did a great job on the defensive end also, getting 3 steals and getting into their transition game. He has a flair for the dramatic and he was in full regalia tonight.
Boatright had a hard time getting anything going off the dribble and had his only offense through either dropping 3-pointers or getting to the line. He displayed phenomenal defense though and played the pick and roll masterfully. He needs to drive the lanes more and produce contact though. With his dribbling and speed, he should easily take his man off the bounce and draw fouls.
Daniels had a well rounded game. He took some open jumpers, but also played around the paint much more than he has before and it paid off. He grabbed 7 boards with 3 of those offensive. He was pretty much the only one able to get to the rim in this game for UConn. He is the unsung hero of this game, battling hard on the board on that last possession and allowing Napier a second shot at the win.
Giffey was able to knock down some open jumpers but also sank those mid-ranged shots too. He played good defense and clogged up the lanes without fouling, but he needs to rebound better, only snagging 1 board. Calhoun’s struggles continued. He bricked everything and finally made a jumper in the second half for his only points of the game. His confidence was at an all-time low that he didn’t even take a shot as the shot clock winded down. His minutes were gobbled up by Lasan Kromah. The senior guard took some bad shots early, but found himself with the ball in his hands in the second half as he spelled Boatright. He did a good job on the boards and also got to the line late in the second half.
Nolan got the start and had an early block, missed a dunk, and made a dunk, but found himself in foul trouble again. He ended up fouling out with a rebound in only 11 minutes. Olander also struggled to remain on the court and didn’t even get a rebound in his 11 minutes of play. Brimah had a block and an offensive rebound in his 17 minutes. Facey had a foul in his 3 minutes. This group continues to struggle. They can’t figure out how to defend without fouling or rebound the basketball. They only managed 2 rebounds in 38 minutes. That’s not getting it done.
This team sure makes it interesting but this time they were the one down as the seconds ticked away. They once again found a way to make plays when it counted. A major hand has to go to the Gampel crowd. They brought it and had the Pavilion rocking. This is a fun team to watch but until the frontcourt figures out how to rebound and stay on the court, this team will need to continue to make plays late in games in win, but when you have Napier on your team your playing with a stacked deck.