During a roller-coaster game with 14 lead-changes, including three in the last minute, the Connecticut Huskies defeated the Florida Gators at the buzzer, 65-64 on Monday night at Gampel Pavilion, thanks to the heroics of senior point guard Shabazz Napier. With the win, the No. 12 Huskies move to 8-0 and the No. 15 Gators fall to 6-2.
Napier finished the game with a game-high 26 points to go with four rebounds, two assists and three steals. But, most importantly, he engrained himself into Connecticut basketball history with another clutch play; this is perhaps the most clutch of them all.
With a few seconds remaining in the game, trailing 64-63, Napier had to force up an attempt towards the top of the key, which was off the mark. During the descent of the ball, a crowd formed underneath the basket, and the convergence of many different fingertips led to the potential rebound being subsequently tipped out to Napier, who was standing at the free-throw line. With 0.3 seconds remaining, he let go of the basketball on a simple jump shot, unguarded, and the next thing you know, Napier was mobbed by his teammates and the UConn faithful at Gampel Pavilion lost their minds. The shot was as sweet as butter, and fell through the net right as time had expired.
Every Connecticut Husky great has their shining moment. Most recently, Kemba Walker’s 2011 step-back, ankle-breaking jump shot to beat Pitt in the Big East Championship was the moment that stuck out in every UConn fan’s mind. This amazing play and amazing finish might have Connecticut fans move on from Kemba’s heroics and appreciate the legend-in-the-making in Shabazz Napier.
Junior forward DeAndre Daniels added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Huskies, and senior Niels Giffey added eight points.
The Huskies take on the University of Maine on Friday, December 6 at the XL Center in Hartford, CT. Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m. ET.