Connecticut missed last year's NCAA tournament, banned from the
postseason after failing to meet academic standards, but they
restored order this season as they surged to a second title in four
Senior Shabazz Napier, one of three players who were also a part of
the 2011 championship team, scored 22 points and was named the Most
Outstanding Player of the Final Four, which was played at AT&T
Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
"Ladies and gentlemen, you're looking at the hungry Huskies," Napier
told reporters. "This is what happens when you ban us."
Point guard Napier's poise down the stretch helped overcome the
tenacious young Kentucky team.
He set up DeAndre Daniels' layup that gave Connecticut a 58-52 edge
with under three minutes left before the Huskies closed it out at
the free-throw line.
James Young scored 20 to lead Kentucky, a program that boasts five
freshmen in their starting lineup and took the college basketball
tournament by storm by reaching the final.
They fell behind by 15 points in the first half but clawed their way
back to trail just 35-31 at halftime.
Kentucky were never able to take the lead but hung tough down the
stretch where they trailed by just four in the final minute.
The Wildcats could face the departure of players to the NBA Draft,
including forward Julius Randle who is projected to be a lottery
pick if he leaves college.
[to top of second column]
"It's about each individual on the team," said Kentucky coach John
"Now it's about them, and we'll sit down with each of them and
they'll make decisions for themselves."
Connecticut second-year coach Kevin Ollie, a former NBA player, led
his program to the title in just his first NCAA tournament.
Seventh seed Connecticut and the eighth seeded Wildcats had the
highest combined seeding for any two teams to ever play for a
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Nick Mulvenney)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.