Men's Basketball Notebook: UConn takes down Memphis behind OT blitz from Napier and Boatright
Published: Saturday, February 15, 2014
Updated: Saturday, February 15, 2014 19:02
HARTFORD – The more a game situation intensifies, the more Shabazz Napier excels on the court.
Behind his career-high 34 points and Ryan Boatright’s 21, the 24th-ranked UConn men’s basketball team earned an 86-81 overtime victory over conference foe and No. 20 Memphis Saturday afternoon in front of a sellout crowd at the XL Center.
The Huskies swept the season series from the Tigers with the win and improved to 20-5 overall and 8-4 in the American Athletic Conference while remaining 3.5 games behind the conference-leading Cincinnati with six regular season games left on the schedule.
Napier and Boatright clutch in OT
With the scored tied at 69-69, Napier watched what he calls a “toilet flush” shot – a shot that rolls around the rim and comes back out – miss at the end of the regulation that would have won the game for the Huskies, he and Boatright came back and combined for 14 of UConn’s 17 points in overtime to put the Memphis away for good.
Boatright hit a 3-pointer to pull the Huskies up 75-71 at the 3:05 mark in overtime and Napier added a trey of his own 80 seconds later to make it 79-74. The Tigers never got back within single possession after that.
“Napier hits some really big shots, tough, contested shots,” Memphis coach Josh Pastner said.
Using the past three seasons as the standard, Napier has had some success in overtime games over that stretch. He has made 15 of his 24 shot attempts in those times, including a 72 percent shooting rate from 3-point range on 13 of 18 attempts.
“You guys know I love overtime,” Napier said to the media after the game. “I wasn’t worried about [missing the shot at the end of regulation] at all.”
Boatright joins 1,000-point club
With a free throw for his first point on Saturday, Boatright became the 48th player in UConn history to join the 1,000-point club.
“It’s just an honor man,” Boatright said. “Coach [Jim] Calhoun and KO gave me the opportunity to come here and play for this great university and every time I put that jersey on I just try to give it my all every time. It’s a blessing to be able to score 1,000 points at this wonderful university.”
Since his arrival at UConn, Boatright has played all but seven games for the Huskies. Boatright dealt with NCAA investigations on his eligibility during his freshman season while sitting out six games and missed another one earlier this season to attend the funeral of his cousin back home in Illinois.
Boatright has averaged 10.4 points per game in his first season and followed that up with 15.4 points per game in the 2012-2013 campaign. He is averaging 12.0 points per game this season.
Numbers can be misleading
The Tigers came up short despite dominating the Huskies in most statistical categories on Saturday, including rebounds, points in the paint, points in transition.
“The stat sheet is not pretty, but I’ll take a win any day,” Ollie said.
Memphis had a 38-28 edge on the glass, a 42-24 advantage on points in the paint, a 20-9 margin in fastbreak points and shot 54.8 percent as opposed to UConn’s 39.3 percent.
The Huskies, however, shot 27 more times at the line than the Tigers, making 29 of 36 shots while the visitors went just 6-for-9.
"Sometimes calls go your way, sometimes they don't," Pastner said. "That's not the reason we lost."
Memphis held a 69-66 lead with about a minute left in regulation, but UConn forward Phil Nolan chased down a Napier missed 3-point attempt to set up another chance for the senior guard, who made a contested layup while getting fouled before making the free throw to tie the game.