Florida St.-UConn Preview

As the only ranked teams in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in

the Bahamas, Connecticut and Florida State probably expected to

meet in the championship game.

Instead, both teams were stunned in the semifinals and the

fourth-ranked Huskies and No. 22 Seminoles will play Saturday for

third place.

Connecticut (5-1) saw its 16-game win streak end with Friday’s

68-63 loss to Central Florida, blowing a 17-point lead in the

second half.

“I can’t be more disappointed in how we played,” coach Jim

Calhoun said. “We just stopped playing. We couldn’t even get the

ball inbounded near the end. Nobody stepped up and it was a

complete disaster for us.”

Florida State (5-1), meanwhile, missed its first 15 shots in

Friday’s 46-41 loss to Harvard. The Seminoles actually turned in

their best defensive effort of the season, limiting the Crimson to

27.3 percent shooting, but were undone by their own 36.2 percent

shooting and 16 turnovers.

“We got beat by a team today that was much hungrier than we

were,” coach Leonard Hamilton said. “They played a much more

aggressive game, they showed an awful lot of toughness, and they

executed their system a lot better than we executed our

system.”

The defending national champion Huskies were shocked as their

third-longest win streak in school history ended. Sophomore point

guard Shabazz Napier, who has big shoes to fill in replacing Kemba

Walker in the lineup, had a career-high seven turnovers, four

points, five assists and four fouls in 31 minutes.

Napier was a major culprit during a 17-2 run by the Knights that

cut their deficit to two points, as UConn began to unravel.

“That wasn’t a run, it was an avalanche,” Calhoun said.

Huskies leading scorer Jeremy Lamb had 15 points but missed 11

of 16 shots. UConn’s 13 turnovers led to 22 points for Central

Florida.

“I feel like I let the team down,” Lamb said. “I turned the ball

over in key moments. We’ve lost games before but this hurts. We

just need to come out with energy tomorrow and be ready to

play.”

It didn’t appear that Florida State was ready to play Friday

after its dismal start. The halftime score of 14-14 matched the

lowest point total for a half in a Division I game since 1986.

Shooting guard Michael Snaer was the lone player to reach double

figures for either team with 10 points.

How these teams match up in the frontcourt could be critical to

deciding this contest. Florida State has the edge in experience in

23-year-old senior center Xavier Gibson and 26-year-old forward

Bernard James.

The Huskies have used 21-year-old center Alex Oriakhi off the

bench in this tournament, with 18-year-old freshman Andre Drummond

moving into the lineup. Both played well Friday, with Oriakhi

finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds and Drummond getting 13

points, nine boards and four blocks.

Florida State leads the series 4-2, and these teams have not met

since the Seminoles won 67-60 in overtime in the preseason NIT

semifinals Nov. 26, 1997.