As I stated in the post previous to this one, I wasn’t going to bet against UConn against the fourth seeded Michigan State Spartans after they’d taken care of Iowa State and Villanova in the last couple of rounds. I felt that if the Huskies could come out, play their game and get something special from Shabazz Napier, they’d be OK. After a shaky first half, all of those came true, and the Huskies went onto victory and earned a trip to North Texas and a spot in the Final Four.
As I mentioned, things didn’t go quite as planned in the first half. UConn was up early, but then went ice cold from the floor late int he half, and the Spartans started a run that eventually had them up 32-23 not too far into the second half. Things looked bleak, but that’s when Napier started taking over. The Senior Guard began leading the Huskies back, and they went on a big run of their own, eventually taking a 49-39 lead.
The Spartans came storming back, however, and eventually the Huskies led only by a score of 51-49, but Napier wouldn’t let his team lose. Gary Harris, who led the Spartans with 22 points, said it best about Napier: “His will to win… you could just see it. He wasn’t going to let his team lose.”a Napier ended up hitting three big free throws with under a minute left, and that basically ended the game. Overall, he scored 25 points, but 17 of those were in the second half. With his continued heroics, Napier is reminding a lot of people of former teammate Kemba Walker, who led an underdog bunch of Huskies to a national title when Napier was a freshman.
Can Napier do the same thing this year? The Huskies will have to pull a lot of magic out of their hats next week, when they face the number 1 seeded Florida Gators in the first round of the Final Four. The Gators have beaten Albany, Pittsburgh and the almost Cinderella story Dayton so far, so they’ll be a huge challenge for the Huskies. Let’s hope Napier’s got some more will to win left over. The Huskies are gonna need it.
Check out the boxscore, courtesy of ESPN.
Featured image courtesy of: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports
- http://scores.espn.go.com/ncb/recap?gameId=400549858 (back)
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