Connecticut’s experienced backcourt made Kentucky’s guards look like, well, freshmen in the national championship game.
Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright outplayed the Harrison twins from start to finish in a 60-54 victory Monday night.
Napier, a senior who was a role player on UConn’s last title team in 2011, had 22 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Junior Ryan Boatright added 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Together, they were simply too much to handle for the Wildcats (29-11).
Many thought it would be the other way around, with brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison carrying the Wildcats to a second title in the last three years.
But the twins were mostly missing in the tournament finale at AT&T Stadium.
Aaron Harrison, who hit so many huge shots to get Kentucky to the title game, finished with seven points on 3-of-7 shooting. He also had three turnovers and no assists. Andrew Harrison was slightly better, scoring eight points to go along with five rebounds, five assists and four turnovers.
A huge cheer arose from the Kentucky student section for John Wall as if the guard were making his way pregame through Rupp Arena. Except on Monday night, the Washington Wizards point guard was winding through AT&T Stadium to take his seat near the Wildcats family section.
Wall was a “one-and-done” player at Kentucky in John Calipari’s first season as head coach. On Monday, Calipari had a team full of promising first-year players.
Connecticut fans honored their own basketball royalty after applauding Ray Allen, a three-year player for the Huskies in the 1990s. Allen plays for the Miami Heat.
Just call AT&T Stadium’s first Final Four an audition for its next one.
The NCAA has been keeping a keen eye on how things are running at the mega-sized arena near Dallas because it is also bidding to host another Final Four at some point from 2017 to 2020.