On Monday night, the Connecticut Huskies knocked off the Kentucky Wildcats 60-54 in one of the greatest NCAA tournament runs of all time. They were the first No. 7 seed to win the championship. Connecticut made every defensive stop in a game where Kentucky had 12 chances to take their first lead.
The two UCONN guards helped force 13 turnovers and it took Kentucky roughly 15 minutes to find their legs in the championship game. Not only were Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright disruptive defensively, they were phenomenal offensively.
Their feistiness even boiled over when they were struggling in a sluggish second half. Napier and Boatright got into animated discussions twice during the final 20 minutes, including a push from Shabazz that had Boatright stumble during play.
That play just showed how hungry these Huskies were for their 4th title. They butted heads again when both guards wanted to save a loose ball that was going out of bounds. With a team full of tenacious players, sometimes the mates have the same thought. Instead of one player saving the ball to the other, they both landed half way off the AT&T Stadium floor.
During the tournament, Kentucky shot well and grabbed a large portion of their offensive misses. On Monday, the Wildcats shot poorly and were out rebounded by one.
Kentucky still had plenty of opportunities in the game. They shot 13-24 from the foul line while UCONN was a perfect 10-10. For a long stretch, the Kentucky freshmen had the lead in three point shooting, but back to back bombs by Napier and Niels Giffey damaged the Wildcats’ hopes.
If you don’t think the championship run was special, let’s take a look back at who the Huskies had to go through. In the round of 64, Connecticut knocked off the Atlantic 10 champ St. Joes. It was a game they had no business winning for a long time, but in the end, the Huskies were dominant in overtime.
From that point on, it was upset after upset. UCONN throttled No.2 seed Villanova by 12. Then they out paced the Iowa State Cyclones in another high scoring game. Now Connecticut was in the Elite 8 with a shot at Michigan State in Madison Square Garden.
Once they made the Final Four, Connecticut faced off with a Florida team that hadn’t lost since a visit to Storrs, CT in December. However, the Huskies crushed Florida with more defense. They held the SEC champion to 53 points.
Then last night’s finale was sensational. By the time it was over, UCONN beat the Atlantic 10 champion, and the Big East regular season champion in Buffalo. Then they beat the Big 12 champion and the Big 10 champion in New York. In the end, they beat the two best SEC teams, including one that didn’t lose a conference game. The other was preseason No. 1 Kentucky.
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