North Texas received a championship game it should be pleased with
ARLINGTON â Although seventh-seeded UConn never trailed, the national championship game was as much of a nail-bitter as any neutral fan could have hoped for.
Here are my thoughts on the Huskies winning their fourth national championship since 1999, defeating Kentucky 60-54 Monday night at AT&T Stadium.
1.) How did SMU beat this team twice? Led by starting guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright, underdog UConn showed their toughness and experience, jumping out to an early 17-8 lead and then drilling several big shots in the final seven minutes. Napier was easily the best offensive player on the floor all night, making 8-of-16 from the field and 4-of-9 from 3. He was an obvious choice for Most Outstanding Player. Napier shot 7-of-25 in his two games against SMU this season. He netted 12 points during the loss in Dallas and 15 in Storrs.
2.) Kentucky was the first team since Michiganâs Fab Five to start five freshmen in a championship game, and it showed. The young Wildcats struggled to knock down critical free throws, finishing 13-of-24 from the charity stripe, and as UK coach John Calipari pointed out, they lost the battle on 50/50 balls. Blame some of the mistakes on youth, but thereâs nothing for that group to hang their heads about. They put on a show in every game they played during this tournament.
3.) North Texas has to be pleased with this result. Despite the terrible weather and the cavernous football stadium with some bad views, two of the three games were extremely entertaining. A championship game record was set with 79,238 fans in attendance. For having a seven and eight seed in the final game, Iâd say everything went pretty well. AT&T Stadium should be in line for another one of these in the not so distant future.
4.) Jerry Jones had an impressive list of celebrity guests Saturday night for the semifinals. He somehow topped it for the title game. Step aside Johnny Manziel, the Cowboys owner needed to make room for Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Tony Romo in his ownerâs box. Jason Garrett and Jason Witten were there as well. Michael Irvin was also in the building. You might not like the way Jones runs the Cowboys, but everyone sure seems to enjoy hanging out with him.
5.) One of the most entertaining moments of the night came when a Mavs ManiAACs dancer (Big Tall Rob) was featured with another dancer in the stands during a timeout late in the first half. Their choreographed moves were so impressive that most of the fans in the stands and press box roared with laughter and cheered throughout. They were then greeted with one of the best ovations of the night and several tweets describing the performance. If youâve been to a Mavericks or Cowboys home game, youâre probably familiar with the routine.
Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota