Napier and Boatright nonexistent in home loss to 'Nova
Entering Saturday, junior Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright averaged 32.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.8 assists, and 3.7 steals per game. The guard tandem both individually ranked in the Big East top ten in scoring and had the highest scoring average of any duo in conference play.
In Saturday's 70-61 home loss to Villanova, Napier and Boatright both had one of their worst performances of the season. Napier never found his rhythm after he picked up two early fouls and was limited to only nine minutes in the first half.
"I think in the first half I just got into foul trouble and then in the second half I wasn't aggressive. I took a lot of three pointers and just didn't connect," Napier said.
Napier's only field goal came 30 seconds into the second half. He crossed-over to lose his defender, then knocked down a jump shot. Everyone in the building believed Napier was going to take over once again.
"Last year, [Napier] and Boatright killed us in the second half and that's exactly what we were thinking about at halftime," Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright said. "As a staff we were saying, "this doesn't look good right here. We know these guys are capable of going off."
They would not go off. Napier finished with just two points on 1-of-8 shooting including 0-for-5 from behind the arc. Although Napier was having an off night shooting the ball, he was able to get the ball to the hot hands. He had six assists in the first half and ten assists for the game along with four rebounds.
Boatright could not manage to do the same. He finished with just four points and didn't score until the final minute even though he played 31 minutes. He had five turnovers compared to only one assist and one rebound.
The worst stat of all was Boatright's minus-21 on the plus/minus chart. This means that UConn was outscored by 21 points when Boatright was on the floor.
After a thrilling win over Syracuse on Wednesday, the loss to the Wildcats was a letdown that was characterized by an 11-0 Villanova run in the first half.
Freshman Omar Calhoun made a pair of free throws to give UConn an early 6-2 lead. At 16:49, Napier missed a three-point attempt then picked up his second foul and was immediately replaced by RJ Evans.
Over the next six minutes and 58 seconds, the Wildcats went on an 11-0 run thanks to a pair of threes by freshman Ryan Arcidiacono, who finished with a game-high 25 points.
During the nearly 7-minute drought, the Huskies turned the ball over six times and managed just four shots once Napier was taken out of the game.
Calhoun missed badly on a wide-open three-point attempt. Then Boatright shot an uncontested 12-foot jumper about a foot long. Junior Tyler Olander botched a lay-up and junior Niels Giffey air balled a long jump shot from the corner.
The Villanova run ended with sophomore DeAndre Daniels' one-handed, break-away dunk followed by Giffey's only three of the game.
UConn erased the deficit and even held a seven-point lead in the second half but Villanova outscored Connecticut 34-18 over the final 14:26 and left the XL Center with a nine-point win.
The Road Ahead
Head coach Kevin Ollie's team is banned from the postseason. Therefore the goal for the 2012-2013 was to win the Big East regular season title. UConn took a step towards that goal with the upset-win over No. 6 Syracuse, but the Huskies took a step back with the loss to Villanova at home.
Through Sunday, UConn (17-7 overall, 7-5 in the Big East) finds itself in seventh place in the conference, two games out of first place but just one game ahead of tenth.
UConn knows the date of its last game of season, a rare feat in sports. Win or lose, March 9 against Providence will be the final game of the 2012-2013 season. The Huskies have six games remaining including the season finale at home against the Friars. Next up is the first of a home-and-home against Cincinnati on Thursday in the final game at the XL Center this year, followed by a trip to DePaul, a home game against No. 15 Georgetown and road contests against Cincinnati and South Florida.
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