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Stanford locks down Napier, upsets UConn

12/19/2013




HARTFORD, Conn. -- Shabazz Napier had his chances. He was so confident that the Huskies would score, he even he passed on the final one, opting for a more open Omar Calhoun.

But none of them dropped for Napier, Calhoun or No. 10 UConn against Stanford's enveloping 2-3 zone. Not much went well in the second half as the Huskies went from leading by 10 at the half to a brutal 13-point, 5-for-31 shooting second half and lost for the first time this season, 53-51 to a hungrier and more desperate Stanford team.

What happens next for both teams in their ensuing games -- Stanford against Michigan Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and UConn at Washington Saturday in Seattle -- could say a lot about their ultimate chase for a high finish in their respective conferences.

"We just had a bad shooting second half,'' said Napier, who entered the game as one of the national frontrunners for national player of the year but had a mortal, 2-of-7 3-point shooting night. "We've got to get ready for Washington.''

UConn coach Kevin Ollie said earlier Wednesday he was approaching the Stanford game as a road game. He mirrored the scheduling to his time in the NBA where the next day would bring a long trip. The Huskies are scheduled to leave Thursday for Seattle to get adjusted to the time change. UConn had lived on the edge to climb to No. 10, winning last-possession games against Maryland, Boston College, Indiana and the most thrilling one over Florida two weeks ago at Gampel Pavilion on a buzzer-beating mid-range shot by Napier.

The Huskies, though, were exposed a bit by Stanford's zone. Not every team will choose the style against UConn nor have the length the Cardinal guarded Napier with as Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins put Anthony Brown and Chasson Randle on Napier, a decision Dawkins said was a necessity to win.

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