Shabazz Napier got the look, the look of we’re going to the Final Four whether you want us to or not.
And when that look came from the UConn Huskies senior point guard, it meant that the Michigan State Spartans were doomed.
Napier had 17 of his 25 points in the second half to lead UConn to 60-54 win over Michigan State at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon.
It’s the first 30 win season for Huskies head coach Kevin Ollie (30-8). The Spartans finish their season at 29-9 and it’s the first time a senior class hasn’t gone to a Final Four while at MSU.
In front of a partisan crowd, the Huskies got out of the gates quickly as they jumped out to 12-2 lead early on. Then a winter chill fell over them while the Spartans heated up and narrowed the gap to two points at 18-16.
Napier would put UConn up 21-16 with a three with 5:27 to go but it would be the final basket they would score in the first half. Michigan State closed out the half on a 9-0 run to enjoy a 25-21 lead at the break.
The Spartans would extend that lead to 10 points early on in the second half before Napier got the look and decided it was time. UConn would use a 9-0 run to take the lead capped off with a Daniels old fashioned three point play.
The Huskies would build their lead to 10 points only to see the Spartans rally back to cut it to two. UConn would hit their free throws down the stretch and Phillip Nolan fast break slam dunk would seal the deal for the Huskies.
Next up for UConn is a rematch with the Florida Gators in the Final Four at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX on Saturday. You may remember the Huskies beat the Gators earlier in the season when Napier hit a shot at the buzzer. Tip is scheduled for 6:09 p.m.
photo credits: brad horrigan – hartford courant