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Men's Basketball: Napier's 26 lifts UConn over Big Ten-bound Rutgers

By Mike Peng
On January 25, 2014

  • Shabazz Napier looks to pass against Temple on Jan. 21 at the XL Center in Hartford. Napier scored 26 points Saturday night to lead the Huskies to an 82-71 win over Rutgers. UConn’s longtime rival is leaving the American Athletic Conference for the Big Ten Conference this summer. JESS CONDON/The Daily Campus

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Shabazz Napier scored 26 points - 20 of them in the second half - leading the UConn men's basketball team to an 82-71 victory over conference foe Rutgers Saturday night in front out of sellout crowd of 8,006 at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
With Rutgers moving to the Big Ten Conference next season, thus ending the conference rivalry between the two teams that dates back to the 1995-96 season, UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said it was "great" to get a win in the team's final visit to the venue.
"It was 'Black Out' night," Ollie said. "I tell the guys, 'We had our 'Blue Out night,' and that wasn't successful so let's go spoil somebody else's night.'"
Ryan Boatright scored 12 points while Amida Brimah chipped in 10 of his own to go along with eight rebounds, helping UConn improve to above .500 for the first time this season in conference play at 4-3.
"Big momentum game for us," Ollie said. "We got a lot of teams that we are looking up at... We've got to stay right on their heels and go beat them when we play head-to-head."
Napier's second-half surge began around the midway mark after being held to just two of 11 shooting for most of the game.
"I was making no shots," Napier said. "If I don't make shots, I've got to figure out how to get myself going. I got to the free throw line a lot and when you are shooting from the line, you're going to learn how to get your confidence back up."
Napier was 10 of 11 from the line and made five of his last six shots.
With sophomore guard Omar Calhoun already out of the game due to a sprained ankle, the Huskies faced another injury scare Saturday.
At around the four-minute mark in the first half, junior forward DeAndre Daniels, who was fresh off a career¬-high 31-point performance and averaging 13.7 points per game, collided with Ryan Boatright while both were chasing a defensive rebound. Daniels went down after the contact and was helped off the court.
The diagnosis for the injury is a high ankle sprain and Daniels' return was listed as questionable at halftime. Daniels checked back into the game at the 13:58 mark in the second half but Ollie was not expecting Daniels to come back initially.
"I was very surprised," Ollie said. "A high ankle sprain is very painful and he just gutted it out. That's the toughness we need to see."
After checking back in, Daniels moved gingerly at first before making a reverse layup - his only shot attempt in the second half.
"I couldn't really push off too hard off my right foot," Daniels said. "That was tough to do. I just wanted to do anything that can help my team to win, so I was just fighting through it."
Daniels also said that he's feeling fine after the game and he's "definitely going to play the next game no matter what."
The Scarlet Knights, who shot just 28 percent from the 3-point range in conference play heading into the game, hit eight of 14 from beyond the arc in the game for 44 percent.
The hot shooting helped Rutgers take a 42-41 lead after J.J. Moore and Jerome Seagears knocked down back-to-back 3s to begin the second half. It was the Scarlet Knights' first lead since the score was 6¬-5.
The game also began in bizarre fashion as a Class B technical foul was on Rutgers after a player dunked a ball prior to the game. Napier made one of two from the free throw line to give UConn a 1-0 lead before tipoff.
UConn will return home and face a repeat opponent for the first time this season in Houston on Thursday night at Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies dropped the previous meeting when the two met in the conference opener on New Year's Eve.
Shabazz
Napier scored 26 points - 20 of them in the second half - and led the UConn men's basketball team to an 82-71 victory over conference foe Rutgers Saturday night in front out of sellout crowd of 8,006 at the Louis Brown Athletic Center - formerly known as the Rutgers Athletic Center.

With Rutgers moving to the Big Ten Conference next season, thus ending the conference rivalry between the two teams that dates back to the 1995-96 season - for the foreseeable future, UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said it was "great" to get a win in the team's probable final visit to the venue.

"It was 'Black Out' night," Ollie said. "I tell the guys, 'We had our 'Blue Out night,' and that wasn't successful so let's go spoil somebody else's night.'"

Ryan Boatright scored 12 points while Amida Brimah chipped in 10 of his own to go along with eight rebounds to help UConn improve to above .500 for the first time this season in conference play at 4-3.

"Big momentum game for us," Ollie said. "We got a lot of teams that we are looking up at... We've got to stay right on their heels and go beat them when we play head-to-head."

Napier's second-half surge began around the midway mark after being held to just two of 11 shooting for most of the game.

"I was making no shots," Napier said. "If I don't make shots, I've got to figure out how to get myself going. I got to the free throw line a lot and when you are shooting from the line, you're going to learn how to get your confidence back up."

Napier was 10 of 11 from the line and made five of his last six shots.

With sophomore guard Omar Calhoun already out of the game due to a sprained ankle, the Huskies faced another injury scare Saturday.

At around the four-minute mark in the first half, junior forward DeAndre Daniels, who was fresh off a career-high 31-point performance and averaging 13.7 points per game, collided with Ryan Boatright while both were chasing a defensive rebound. Daniels went down after the contact and was helped off the court.

The diagnosis for the injury is a high ankle sprain and Daniels' return was listed as questionable at halftime. Daniels checked back into the game at the 13:58 mark in the second half but Ollie was not expecting Daniels to come back initially.

"I was very surprised," Ollie said. "A high ankle sprain is very painful and he just gutted it out. That's the toughness we need to see."

After checking back in, Daniels moved gingerly at first before making a reverse layup - his only shot attempt in the second half.

"I couldn't really push off too hard off my right foot," Daniels said. "That was tough to do. I just wanted to do anything that can help my team to win, so I was just fighting through it."

Daniels also said that he's feeling fine after the game and he's "definitely going to play the next game no matter what."

The Scarlet Knights, who shot just 28 percent from 3-point range in conference play so far heading into the game, hit eight of 14 from beyond the arc in the game for 44 percent.

The hot shooting helped Rutgers take a 42-41 lead after J.J. Moore and Jerome Seagears knocked down back-to-back 3s to begin the second half. It was the Scarlet Knights' first lead since the score was 6-5.

The game also began in bizarre fashion as a Class B technical foul was on Rutgers after a player dunked a ball prior to the game. Napier made one of two from the free throw line to give UConn a 1-0 lead before tipoff.

UConn will return home and face a repeat opponent for the first time this season in Houston on Thursday night at Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies dropped the previous meeting when the two met in the conference opener on New Year's Eve.
 


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