Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Connecticut players, including center Amida Brimah (35) and guard Lasan Kromah (20) celebrate as Kentucky guard James Young (1) leaves the court at the end the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. Connecticut won 60-54. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
NCAA basketball: UConn beats Kentucky for national championship

Seventh-seeded UConn defeats eighth-seeded Kentucky for national championship.

First Published Apr 07 2014 11:26 pm • Last Updated Apr 08 2014 08:52 am

Arlington, Texas • Coaches and players left them. Others told them to go away.

The guys who stuck around at UConn ended up with the last laugh and a pretty good prize to go with it: the national title.

At a glance

Storylines UConn’s redemption

UConn senior guard Shabazz Napier has 22 points, six rebounds and three assists to earn Most Outstanding Player honors.» The Huskies win the title a year after being banned from the tournament for academic reasons.» Kentucky goes 13-for-24 from the free-throw line.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Shabazz Napier turned in another all-court masterpiece Monday night to lift the Huskies to a 60-54 win over Kentucky’s freshmen and bring home a championship hardly anyone saw coming.

"You’re looking at the hungry Huskies," Napier told the crowd and TV audience as confetti rained down. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when you banned us."

The senior guard had 22 points, six rebounds and three assists, and his partner in defensive lockdown, Ryan Boatright, finished with 14 points.

The victory comes only a short year after the Huskies were barred from March Madness because of grades problems. That stoked a fire no one could put out in 2014.

Napier kneeled down and put his forehead to the court for a long while after the buzzer sounded. He was wiping back tears when he cut down the net.

"I see my guys enjoying it," Napier said. "That’s the most special feeling ever."

UConn (32-8) never trailed in the final. The Huskies led by as many as 15 in the first half and watched the Wildcats (29-11) trim the deficit to one with 8:13 left. But Aaron Harrison, who pulled out wins with clutch 3-pointers in Kentucky’s last three games, missed a 3 from the left corner that would’ve given the Cats the lead. Kentucky never got that close again.

One key difference in a six-point loss: Kentucky’s 11 missed free throws — a flashback of sorts for coach John Calipari, whose Memphis team blew a late lead against Kansas after missing multiple free throws in the 2008 final. The Wildcats went 13 for 24. UConn went 10 for 10, including Lasan Kromah’s two to seal the game with 25.1 seconds left.


story continues below
story continues below

"We had our chances to win," Calipari said. "We’re missing shots, we’re missing free throws. We just didn’t have enough."

Calipari said he decided not to foul at the end "because they’re not missing."

In all, Calipari’s One and Doners got outdone by a more fundamentally sound, more seasoned group that came into this tournament a seventh-seeded afterthought but walked away with the program’s fourth national title since 1999. They were the highest seed to win it all since Rollie Massimino’s eighth-seeded Villanova squad in 1985.

Napier and Boatright now go down with Kemba Walker, Emeka Okafor, Rip Hamilton, Ray Allen and all those other UConn greats. This adds to the school’s titles in 1999, 2004 and 2011.

"When they say, ‘Ray, Rip, Ben, Emeka, Kemba — they’ll soon say Shabazz,’ " said their former coach, Jim Calhoun, who was in the crowd along with former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and a father-and-son team whose dance to the "Happy" song got huge applause when played on the big screen at AT&T Stadium.

The crowd was cheering for UConn at the end.

A short year ago, the Huskies were preparing for their first season in the new American Athletic Conference after being booted from the Big East and not welcomed by any of the so-called power conferences. Calhoun, who built the program, left because of health problems. And most damaging — the NCAA ban triggered an exodus of five key players to the NBA or other schools.

Napier stuck around. So did Boatright. And Calhoun’s replacement, Kevin Ollie, figured out how to make their grit, court sense and loyalty pay off.

"It’s not about going to the next level, it’s not about going to the pros, but playing for your university, playing for your teammates," Niels Giffey said. "And I’m so proud of all the guys on this team that stuck with this team."

They were one step ahead of Kentucky all night, holding off furious rally after furious rally.

Kentucky’s biggest push started when James Young (20 points, seven rebounds) posterized Amida Brimah with a monster dunk to start a three-point play and trigger an 8-0 run.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.