Maybe it was the emotions of senior night. Maybe it was the fact the UConn Huskies men's basketball team has been up and down lately as far as their play.
If it were the emotions of senior night, it didn't show early on as UConn raced out to a lead over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights only to see them battle back.
But in the end, it was UConn who prevailed, beating the Scarlet Knights 69-63 in front of a sold-out crowd at Gampel Pavilion on Wednesday night in Storrs, CT.
The No. 19 Huskies improve to 24-6 (12-5 American) while Rutgers falls to 11-19 (5-12).
In his final game at Gampel Pavlion, Shabazz Napier led UConn with 26 points, including a career-high seven three pointers. German native Niels Giffey had a career-high 16 points in his final game in Storrs while DeAndre Daniels had seven points and a team-high six rebounds.
He also made ESPN's Not Top 10 after getting stuffed by the rim on a dunk.
The Huskies got of the gates quickly racing out to a 10-3 lead. Rutgers battled back to take the lead at 11-10 on a Moore three-pointer only to see Napier drown one of his seven threes.
UConn would push its lead to seven points late in the first half before the Scarlet Knights cut it to one. The Huskies would enjoy a three-point lead at the half as Napier made two free throws.
Early on in the second half, the game stayed close before UConn worked it to an eight point lead at 56-48. Rutgers once again came back and cut it to three points. Six straight points including two dunks by Philip Nolan pushed UConn's lead to 11 points.
Rutgers would get it back down four points but that was a close as they got.
Ryan Boatright and Napier got into it a little bit at one of the timeouts late in the game and it was evident Kevin Ollie was not pleased. He actually pulled Boat from the floor and used him for offense/defense substitutions at the end of the game.
Whatever their problem is, those two need to work it out, at least on the court, as the Huskies need both of them to make a run in the American Athletic Conference tournament as well as the NCAA Tournament.
UConn finishes up the 2013-14 regular season on Saturday afternoon when they'll take on the Louisville Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, KY at 2 p.m.
Here are UConn's postgame quotes.
Here are UConn's postgame notes.
photo credit: john woike – hartford courant