Men's Basketball: UConn revisits Louisville in the last game of the regular season
Shabazz Napier scored 30 points in his last game at Gampel Pavilion. Napier is two points shy of surpassing Kemba Walker in the all time scoring list. JON KULAKOFSKY/The Daily Campus
As UConn celebrated a Senior Night win over Rutgers on Wednesday night, Louisville's Russ Smith dashed the Huskies' hopes of claiming a share of the American Athletic Conference regular season title this year.
Smith made all six of his 3-point attempts in the second half to rally the No. 11 Cardinals (25-5, 14-3 American) past No. 18 SMU in Dallas to maintain a two-game lead over No. 19 UConn in the conference heading into the season finale.
The two sides will wrap up their respective regular seasons when they square off at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. on Saturday.
The Huskies (24-6, 12-5 American) have struggled against the defending national champions as of late, losing seven of the last eight meetings, including three consecutive on the road dating back to 2010 and one at Gampel Pavilion earlier this season.
Smith scored 23 points in that 76-64 Louisville win while sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell added a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
UConn coach Kevin Ollie stressed the importance of keeping the game close come Saturday.
"Every game we play against Louisville, it's tight in the first half," Ollie said, "and then kind of at the 10-, 12-minute mark, they are the solid team. We've got to get back to that."
The Huskies trailed 34-28 at the break during the Jan. 18 contest but managed to erase that lead quickly into the second half. Louisville, however, went on an 11-0 run afterward to pull away again and UConn never got back within seven points.
UConn's senior guard Shabazz Napier, who had 30 points for the Huskies in that game, said defense and limiting Louisville's transition would be the keys on Saturday.
"It's the biggest thing," Napier said. "They play good defense and they get on transition. They are hard to play against when they do that. We've just got to make sure we make our shots and play good defense."
Napier will also have a chance to surpass a couple of big names in UConn history on Saturday.
He is just two points shy of tying Kemba Walker for seventh place on UConn's all-time scoring list and nine assists behind his coach Ollie for third place all-time.
Saturday's game is scheduled to tip off at 2 p.m. and it will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
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