Four Thoughts on Connecticut’s Big Win Over FloridaPosted by CD Bradley on December 3rd, 2013
Four Thoughts is our way of providing some rapid reactions to some of the key games involving AAC teams throughout the season.
- What is left to say about Shabazz Napier? UConn’s senior guard did it again, capping off another ridiculous shooting night with a buzzer-beater to seal the Huskies’ 65-64 win over Florida on Monday night. Napier finished with 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting (more on that momentarily) and another game-winner, plus a four-point play on the penultimate possession; he also scored the final points for UConn in one-possession victories over Indiana and Boston College. He added four rebounds, two assists and three steals, while controlling a sometimes sloppy game of runs. Due to some inconsistent offense by both teams – the game was mostly played with more effort than skill, despite some impressive athletic feats – the teams alternated bursts of points and traded the lead back and forth, including three times in the final minute. Through it all Napier was magnificent, and has to be near the top of the list for All-America consideration thus far.
- With the win, the Huskies are now 8-0 with wins over Florida, Maryland, Indiana and Boston College. They reached #2 in one RPI replicator Monday night; while that ranking is flawed in many ways and still unreliable so early in the season, it’s an indicator of the value of their hot start. UConn has four non-conference games remaining before AAC play begins; they will be favored in each of them, making it likely they will reach 2014 undefeated. Things couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start for Kevin Ollie’s team. But…
- Can UConn possibly keep shooting this well? It’s highly unlikely. The Huskies entered the game shooting 44.7 percent on three-pointers, ranking sixth nationally. They raised that percentage Monday with a sterling 11-of-24 performance. Both Napier (15-of-25) and Neils Giffey (17-of-25) are shooting at least 60 percent on threes this year in a significant number of attempts; they shot 39.8 and 29.4 percent, respectively, from distance last year. As a team, the Huskies shot 34 percent on threes last year with largely the same cast of characters. If their shooting percentages eventually come back to earth, their record might follow, particularly given that they have three one-point wins and another victory by two points on the season.
- The other concern with UConn has been its frontcourt, and the Huskies had to overcome some problems there to get this win. Patric Young had his way with a series of Husky defenders, fouling out both Phil Nolan and Tyler Olander in 11 minutes a piece. Florida pounded the ball down low to him repeatedly, and he responded with a 17-point, seven-rebound performance. The Gators, not a particularly strong rebounding team, outboarded UConn 34 to 26; Florida grabbed 37.9 percent of its offensive rebounds (they were averaging 36.2 percent coming in) and 74.2 percent on the defensive end (67.5 percent). UConn also had a hard time stopping Casey Prather, an athletic wing who seemingly got into the lane at will. He finished with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, with most of those attempts coming at the rim.