Napier’s status uncertain as UConn faces USF
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 17:03
The UConn men’s basketball team’s season has suddenly taken a turn for the worse. After winning four out of five games and putting themselves in prime position for a share of the Big East regular season title, the Huskies have lost two in a row and will be without junior Niels Giffey for the rest of the season.
Giffey broke his finger in a 61-56 loss at Cincinnati on March 2. Giffey is UConn’s leading scorer (4.9 points per game) and rebounder (3.6 rebounds per game) off the bench.
The Huskies (19-9, 9-7 in the Big East) played without junior Shabazz Napier, who reinjured his right foot against Georgetown. The Huskies missed Napier’s leadership in the final minute against Cincinnati as they turned the ball over twice with a chance to take the lead or force the game into overtime. Napier is a game-time decision for tonight’s game against the South Florida Bulls (11-17 overall, 2-14 in the Big East) in Tampa at 9 p.m.
In the first meeting, UConn came from behind to defeat the South Florida 69-64 in overtime on Feb. 3. The Bulls limited the Huskies to just 15 first-half points but Napier and sophomore Ryan Boatright carried the Huskies with 41 combined points. As conference foes, UConn is 7-1 against South Florida.
The Huskies have four players who average in double figures. Napier is UConn’s leading scorer at 17.1 points per game for UConn. Boatright averages 15.3 points and 4.4 assists per game. Sophomore DeAndre Daniels tallies 11.5 points per game and is the team’s leading rebounder at 5.2
In the last two games, losses at home to Georgetown and at Cincinnati, Daniels led the team with 21.5 points and nine rebounds per game.
Freshman Omar Calhoun puts up 11.4 points per game but struggled last time out against the Bearcats. He scored just three points and committed four turnovers in 32 minutes.
South Florida ended a 10-game losing streak and earned its second Big East win of the season with a 83-73 victory over DePaul on March 3. The Bulls are tied for last place in the conference. USF’s only other conference win came over Georgetown on Jan. 19, ironically the Hoyas are first place in the Big East.
After advancing to the NCAA Tournament last season, the Bulls were picked to finish 8th in the conference preseason, one spot ahead of the Huskies. South Florida hold opponents to 30.7 percent from three point land and average just 11 turnovers per game.
South Florida junior Victor Rudd leads the team with 11.4 points per game and seven rebounds per game.
Senior Toarlyn Fitzpatrick is USF’s second leading scorer at 10.4 points per game. He recorded a double-double, 22 points and ten rebounds, in the first meeting with UConn.
Tonight’s game can be seen on ESPNU.