UConn showed hearts by overpowering Kentucky to clinch the 2014 NCAA Title


ARLINGTON, Texas —

The University of Connecticut showed that their hearts are bigger than the future NBA stars of the University of Kentucky as the Huskies led from the start to finish in route to a title clinching 60-54 victory over the Wildcats in the winner-take-all NCAA Finals on Monday night (Tuesday, Manila time).





Sensational guard Shabazz Napier led the Huskies with 22 points and Connecticut won its second NCAA title in four years overpowering all those Kentucky freshmen.

Napier is among three UConn seniors who were part of the Huskies' 2011 title. That trio stayed after coach Jim Calhoun's retirement even when the Huskies were ineligible for the NCAA tournament last season.

They came back strong in coach Kevin Ollie's second season, and the Huskies (32-8) went all the way to their fourth overall title.

Kentucky (29-11), with five freshmen starters, never led in the championship game.

The Wildcats missed 11 of 24 free throws, while the Huskies were perfect on 10 tries.The galvanizing guard Napier was named Most Outstanding Player and had some strong words after the win, via Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel:

Shabazz Napier to the crowd: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when you banned us." Awesome.



Ryan Boatright added 14 points, while Niels Giffey, who was a part of UConn's 2011 title with Napier, chipped in 10, as the Huskies' most experienced players helped their young coach make a little bit of history.

James Young led Kentucky with 20 points, but the Wildcats shot just 54.2 percent from the free-throw line, and despite cutting into an early 15-point deficit, could never take a lead.

The Huskies exploded out of the gate. Defensively, they used their quickness to effectively swipe at the dribble, swarm the ball and force Kentucky into seven turnovers.

Giffey hit a pair of free throws to put UConn up by 15 with just under six minutes to go, leading LeBron James himself to praise the Huskies' electric backcourt.

Napier and Boatright combined for 23 points and three steals in the first half, but when DeAndre Daniels went to the bench with foul trouble, Kentucky climbed back into the game.

After Napier combated Kentucky's zone with a three-pointer from T.J. Sorrentine range, Young and Andrew Harrison knocked down a couple of treys, and the Wildcats closed the half on an 11-2 run to make it 35-31 at intermission.


Both squads came out of the locker room ice cold from the field—a testament to the defense more than anything else—but Giffey knocked down a corner three to give the Huskies some breathing room, 44-39, at the under-12 timeout.

The Huskies pushed the lead back to nine and appeared ready to pull away, but Young responded with a Dunk of the Year nominee to provide Kentucky with a crucial spark.

Young hit four subsequent free throws as part of an 8-0 run to bring the 'Cats within one with just under eight minutes remaining.

But they could never get over the final hump, missing several freebies down the stretch, and the Huskies hit enough shots and used some late defensive stands to capture the national title.


Future Plans

Going forward, recruiting and improving young talent will be important for both coaches. Kentucky will likely have to reload with so many players capable of heading to the next level. That hasn't been such a problem in the past, but if Wildcats legend Rex Chapman's rumor comes to fruition, and Coach Cal joins his youngsters in the NBA, things may get a little dicey in Lexington

Ollie, meanwhile, will have to replace Napier, Giffey and maybe Daniels, who is on the NBA's radar after a magnificent tournament.

But that's a problem that Ollie can deal with later. For now, thanks to one of the most memorable runs in tournament history, he gets to bask in Connecticut's fourth national championship as one of the best young coaches in the country.


--- with reports from BleacherReport.com

UConn showed hearts by overpowering Kentucky to clinch the 2014 NCAA Title UConn showed hearts by overpowering Kentucky to clinch the 2014 NCAA Title Reviewed by Jay-R Bayon-on on 4/08/2014 Rating: 5

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