UConn’s dynamic duo outplays Kentucky’s twins
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Connecticut’s experienced backcourt made Kentucky’s guards look like, well, freshmen in the national championship game.
Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright outplayed the Harrison twins from start to finish in a 60-54 victory Monday night.
Napier, a senior who was a role player on UConn’s last title team in 2011, had 22 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Junior Ryan Boatright added 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Together, they were simply too much to handle for the Wildcats (29-11).
Many thought it would be the other way around, with brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison carrying the Wildcats to a second title in the last three years.
But the twins were mostly missing in the tournament finale at AT&T Stadium.
Aaron Harrison, who hit so many huge shots to get Kentucky to the title game, finished with seven points on 3-of-7 shooting. He also had three turnovers and no assists. Andrew Harrison was slightly better, scoring eight points to go along with five rebounds, five assists and four turnovers.
It wasn’t the first time Napier and Boatright outshined their opposing backcourt. Not this year. Not in this NCAA tournament. Not even in the Final Four.
UConn’s dynamic duo pretty much shut down Florida’s Scottie Wilbekin and Michael Frazier in the semifinals. Wilbekin, the Southeastern Conference player of the year, had four points on 2-of-9 shooting Saturday night. Wilbekin also finished with just one assist and three turnovers.
Frazier hit a 3-pointer off the opening tip, and then was shut out the rest of the way in UConn’s 63-53 victory.
Napier and Boatright were equally disruptive against Kentucky’s bigger backcourt.
They limited open looks from behind the 3-point line, prevented drives, picked off passes and challenged every shot. They have the speed, athleticism and instincts to do all the time.
And their experience might be the key to putting it all together.
Although they were ineligible for the NCAA tournament last year, the Huskies (32-8) used it as a rallying point. It provided motivation during the season and especially when the tournament began.
It was maybe most noticeable when Napier took the microphone on the postgame stage and slammed the NCAA while making it to clear to everyone within earshot that last year’s exclusion provided a huge chip on their shoulders.