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Connecticut derails Florida once again in Final Four

Daniels sparks Huskies to another win over Gators
Daniels sparks Huskies to another win over Gators
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Connecticut Huskies should have been intimidated at the Final Four on April 5. The Huskies were facing a Florida Gators team that was the No. 1 overall seed, had won 30 games in a row and had barely been challenged in their road to the Final Four this month. Connecticut certainly looked skittish when Florida went up by 16-4 in the first 11 minutes -- yet 29 minutes later, the Gators were beaten in a way they hadn't been since their last meeting with the Huskies.

Connecticut's 63-53 victory was even more convincing than its buzzer beating win over Florida four months earlier. The Gators hadn't lost since that last-second defeat in December 2, 2013 to the Huskies, but by the end of their Final Four stint, they looked nothing like the team that won 30 straight games since.

DeAndre Daniels, not Shabazz Napier, was the offensive spark for the Huskies with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Daniels hit the Huskies' first three pointer of the night, when the Gators were up by 16-4, and a few more shots beyond the arc helped put Connecticut up at halftime.

The Huskies stretched their lead from there, as the Gators went cold and just couldn't heat up. Florida did show a spark when it closed the deficit to 43-40, but Connecticut never let it get any closer. With Scottie Wilbekin held to four points and the Gators' team held to 1-for-10 from three-point range, there was little they could do.

Patric Young and Casey Prather had a respective 19 and 15 points for Florida, but their teammates only combined for 19 of their own. As for Connecticut, it erased its cold start so thoroughly, it wound up hitting 55 percent of its shots overall.

Connecticut met a red hot SEC team in the Final Four and left it as hapless as it had been in a long time. If the Huskies repeat that same formula against the Kentucky Wildcats in the national title game on April 7, they will have their second championship in four years, fourth in 16, and first under coach Kevin Ollie.

Kentucky has upset four highly ranked teams in a row to reach the end of the Final Four, but so has Connecticut. The Huskies are technically the lowest seed left now, although they are still the early underdog -- just as they probably like it.