Napier's triple-double leads UConn over Yale 80-62
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)
There have been 10 triple-doubles in Connecticut men's basketball history.
Shabazz Napier has two of them.
The senior guard put up 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists Monday to lead No. 19 UConn (2-0) to an 80-62 win over in-state rival Yale.
''My biggest thing is I want to be an all-around player,'' Napier said. ''I want to help our team rebounding, and that's our blueprint right there. If I can help our team rebound, we're going to win.''
Omar Calhoun had 18 points and Niels Giffey added 15, all of them in the first half, for UConn. He and Calhoun combined for eight of the Huskies' 11 3-pointers.
Ryan Boatright hit two more and finished with 14 points for the Huskies.
Justin Sears led Yale (1-1) with 17 points. Javier Duren added 15.
Giffey hit 3-pointers on four consecutive possessions midway through the first half to give the Huskies control of what had been a tight game early.
The Bulldogs, who came back from a 17-point second-half deficit in their season opener on Saturday, got down by 21 in the second half on Monday.
A 7-0 Yale run cut the Husky lead to 66-55 with 4 minutes left. But a 3-point play by Napier stretched it back out.
''He has a great basketball I.Q.,'' coach Kevin Ollie said. ''He has a great understanding of what I want. He has a great understanding of what his players want.''
UConn held Yale to just 31 percent shooting, while shooting better than 56 percent. But the Bulldogs outrebounded the Huskies 43-31 and 22-4 on the offensive end.
''Well, when you miss a lot of shots, there are a lot of rebounds,'' Yale coach James Jones said.
Amida Brimah, Connecticut's 7-foot freshman center, had seven blocked shots, giving him 10 in two games.
The Huskies started slowly, hitting just three of their first nine shots from the field, and 8 minutes into the game the teams were tied at 9-9.
But 3-pointers from Giffey on four straight possessions launched UConn on a 15-3 run that stretched the lead to 24-12.
''You're just in the zone for a little bit,'' Giffey said. ''And Shabazz really, really saw that. I hit one or two in a row, so we just kept running a couple actions for me, a couple set plays for me, and he put me in that position.''
Giffey hit his first five shots, all from behind the arc, before being forced to sit with his second foul. Boatright, Phil Nolan and DeAndre Daniels also had two before halftime, many of them as the referees tightly enforced the new rules against hand-checking.
UConn, which had 11 players score in a one-point win over Maryland on Friday, played 11 in the first half against Yale. Yale also went to its bench a lot, playing 10 before intermission.
Kentan Facey ,the Huskies' highly touted freshman, scored the first points of his UConn career on a pair of foul shots that made the score 37-20. UConn led at halftime 39-24.
A 3-pointer from Calhoun put the Huskies up 46-25, 2 1/2 minutes into the second half.
Napier is the only UConn player with more than one triple double. His other came on Nov. 20, 2011 against Coppin State. He had 22 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds in that one.
Kemba Walker, Hasheem Thabeet, Marcus Williams, Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Caron Butler, Doron Sheffer and Donyell Marshall are the other Huskies to have accomplished the feat.
''I'm just fortunate to be in that company, and I'm just glad my teammates were there to make the shots,'' he said.
This was the 66th meeting between UConn and Yale, who first played in 1914, but had not met in a decade. The Huskies have won 44 of those games, including the past 13 and 28 of the past 30.
The Huskies have not been beaten by another team from Connecticut since Hartford and Yale both beat them in December of 1986, Jim Calhoun's first season as UConn's coach.
Connecticut has won its first game of the season at the XL Center for the 26th consecutive season.