Connecticut Huskies: Shabazz Napier’s Continued Success Key To Winning The American Athletic Conference

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 15 Connecticut Huskies are now 11-1 as they dominated the 5-6 Eastern Washington Eagles out of the Big Sky Conference. The Eagles remained close for a majority of the first half, but were overwhelmed by the talent that the Huskies had all over the court. The only concern that UConn should take away from this game has to be that they allowed Eastern Washington’s best player, Tyler Harvey, to score 19 points. A better all-around team could have probably pulled off the upset because of the poor play of the Huskies defensively, but the Eagles weren’t good enough to exploit the Huskies’ weakness.

However, the most important thing that can be taken away from Connecticut’s win over Eastern Washington was the play of one of the best point guards in the country, Shabazz Napier; he scored 15 points and had nine assists. Napier is now leading the Huskies in average rebounds, average assists and average points per game.

Despite the Huskies being ranked No. 15 so far this season, their upcoming American Athletic Conference schedule is going to be a lot more difficult than their non-conference schedule. So far, Connecticut has only had impressive wins against the then No. 15 Florida Gators and the Indiana Hoosiers. Their lone loss came at the hands of the defensively-minded 8-3 Stanford Cardinal at home. If Stanford finishes in the bottom half of the PAC-12, it could damage Connecticut’s hopes for a high 2014 NCAA Tournament seed.

Napier must continue to play well in every game for the remainder of the season if UConn is to have even a slight chance of winning the AAC. Eight of the 10 AAC teams have at least eight wins so far in non-conference play. Every conference game is going to be a hard-fought struggle for Connecticut that could come down to a couple big plays by top players. The good news for the Huskies is that Napier doesn’t look like he’s slowing down any time soon, and should give UConn a fighting chance in the AAC.

Taylor Sturm is an SEC Basketball Writer for Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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