The stage is set. The semifinals are in the books and the NCAA Men’s Basketball title now boils down to one last, final game. It is an unexpected match-up, but it looks like we’re in for a great UConn vs. Kentucky showdown in the Finals as the seventh and eighth seeds are set to collide. Both teams took different routes to get here, yet both needed to upset a heavily favored first or second seeded team in Florida (1) or Wisconsin (2).
The University of Connecticut Huskies defeated the Florida Gators with a convincing 10-point margin, 63-53. Kentucky Wildcats were carried to victory over the Wisconsin Badgers, by yet another dagger three by Aaron Harrison with less than six seconds left in regulation to come away with the 74-73 win.
UConn vs. Florida, 63-53
Connecticut turned up the defensive pressure on Florida’s guards and was able to shut them down, partially eliminating them from the equation. They finished the first half of the game ahead by three points, 25-22. They just continued their strong play in the second half to widen their lead, adding seven more points to their advantage.
The key player for the Huskies was DeAndre Daniels, who finished with a fat double-double performance with 20 points, 10 boards, a steal, a block and two treys. Beyond just their improve defensive effort, the Huskies were also impeccable on the offensive end of the floor. Daniels led three other starters who managed to score in double figures. As a whole, the team shot an accurate 55.8% from the field, knocking down 24 of their 43 attempts. Veteran Shabazz Napier came away with 12 points, six assists and four steals for the game. Ryan Boatright chipped in 13 points and six rebounds.
Florida center Patric Young was the only player who got his game in gear for the Gators as he ended the night with 19 points, five rebounds and a single block. Casey Prather was the only other Gator to hit double figures with 15 points.
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Kentucky vs. Wisconsin, 74-73
Once again, almost like clockwork, the Huskies were down with a few seconds left on the clock and similar to their amazing upset over Michigan to make the Final Four, they found Aaron Harrison. No one, at least at this point, can contest that Harrison has icy veins and is a true clutch shooter when the game is on the line. In back-to-back feats of amazing shooting, Aaron has been able to lift his team to the next stage of the competition. He may very well be Kentucky’s ace up their sleeve if ever their Finals game versus UConn ever goes down the wire.
“You can’t be scared to miss, and you want to be that guy that wants to take the big shots,” Aaron Harrison said.
Wisconsin was ahead at the half by four, 36-40. Kentucky dug deep in the second half and fought hard for the comeback window they got allowing Harrison to take the game. The Badgers were killing it at the line all night, missing only a single shot from the free-throw line out of their 20 attempts (95.0%). In the end, Harrison’s heroics came into play and quickly shifted the pressure of needing to play catch up to the Badgers. Amazingly enough, the game-winning three-pointer was Aaron’s only attempt from deep for the game. He finished with eight points, but it was his last three that mattered most. James Young scored a game-high 17 points,while Julius Randle 16 points of his own.
The Badgers were led by Sam Dekker and Ben Brust who each delivered 15 points for the game.
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