There had been some questions about the UConn Huskies and their ability to play against elite competition during their 7-0 start, as they failed to dominant fairly pedestrian opposition. Wins over Indiana and Maryland were nice, but the Huskies only beat each by a point. However, their undefeated start still had them ranked 12th in country heading into last night’s clash with No. 15 Florida.
This was a back and forth game the entire way, and point guards Shabazz Napier and Scottie Wilbekin traded big plays on each end of the floor. Casey Prather (19 points, 7 rebounds) and Patric Young (17 points, 7 rebounds) each had strong games for the Gators, while DeAndre Daniels (14 points, 7 rebounds) was the only Husky to provide Napier with scoring support.
In the end, it was Napier who made the biggest plays of the game, completing a four point play to take the lead with 34 seconds left, then, following a Florida buzzer beater to retake the lead, knocking down a 15 foot buzzer beater to win the game. Napier finished with 26 points, and he came through in the clutch yet again for UConn. His ability to make big shots and lead the Huskies to wins is incredibly valuable, and Napier is establishing himself as one of the best guards in the country.
This win also establishes UConn as one of the top teams in the country, and it removes doubt about their ability to play against top competition. Some had believed that the Huskies were just taking advantage of an easy schedule during their 7-0 start, but their eighth win was against a team that many expect to be around deep into March.
If the Huskies can continue to perform at that level, there is no reason they can’t beat out Louisville and Memphis for the inaugural AAC championship. With Napier leading one of the best backcourts in college basketball, UConn has the look of a top 10 team that is capable of making a long NCAA Tournament run. Obviously there is still a long way to go in the season, but UConn’s start has to be taken seriously by their competition and give their players and fans great optimism.
Every team needs a big win to get themselves established as a legitimate contender and propel themselves to greater success, and that is exactly what UConn got Monday against Florida. This team is for real, and they are going to be near the top of the rankings all season.
How long can UConn keep up its undefeated season? You can see for your self by purchasing UConn Men’s Basketball tickets for any game remaining this year.