By Joe Cooper @joeRantSports on April 8, 2014
From the start, the UConn Huskies were playing with confidence propelled by the energy that Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright brought in the backcourt. Kentucky had their chances such as when James Young dunked on Amida Brimah and cut the lead to six points, but couldn’t keep pace. Here are five reasons why the Wildcats went home empty-handed.
After the Michigan State game, it was clear that senior point guard Shabazz Napier wasn’t going to allow Uconn to lose. Strong guard play won the national title last year for Louisville, and 2014’s best PG cut the nets down for UConn.
Even head coach John Calipari said it at halftime, pointing out that guard Aaron Harrison is only 18. The moment swallowed up the Wildcats early as they failed to get in an offensive rhythm. The entire starting five for the Big Blue were freshmen. Their talent carried them to Dallas, but it couldn’t outlast the veteran group from Storrs, CT.
The UConn defense bottled up Randle all night as he reverted to camping out on the perimeter, taking most of his shots off the dribble. In 34 minutes, Randle scored 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting from the field. Randle looked gassed for most of the night, hitting 4-of-7 free throws and grabbed only six rebounds. He played well below his season totals of 15.1 PPG, 10.5 RPG and 70 percent from the charity stripe.
Kentucky’s lack of movement crippled them late. Without James Young’s spark offensively, the Wildcats were lost for most of the night, relying on individual production rather than spreading the wealth to the masses. On the opposite end, threes from secondary players such as Niels Giffey helped weather the storm late for UConn.
How else would John Calipari have it? The Wildcats went 13-of-24 from the free throw line while the national champs went a perfect 10-of-10.
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