Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Five things: UConn beats Florida at buzzer
By Andy Katz
STORRS, Conn. -- Shabazz Napier hit a game-winning buzzer-beating jumper to beat Florida 65-64 in a thriller Monday at Gampel Pavilion. Here are five observations for the Huskies and Gators.
1. UConn and Napier came through late, again: Napier doesn't want to be compared to Kemba Walker.
It's not fair -- to Walker:
"Those are big shoes to fill,'' said Napier after his game-winning buzzer-beating jumper beat Florida 65-64 in a thriller Monday at Gampel Pavilion.
Shabazz Napier had 26 points on 9-for-15 shooting to lead UConn to a win over Florida on Monday.
"I'd have to win a national championship,'' said Napier of Walker's improbable run to claim Big East and NCAA tournament titles in 2011. "I'm trying to be myself.''
Napier learned from Walker and emerged from under his shadow a year ago with Walker off to the NBA. But an APR ban meant the Huskies couldn't go to the postseason and anything Napier did wouldn't have the same cache without the possibility of an NCAA tournament berth.
Walker made money shots for the Huskies during that magical run in 2011. No one is saying this season's Huskies are en route to a national title. But no one said that about UConn in 2011 either -- at any point until the Huskies won the Big East Tournament title.
Napier has had his moments in his career already, like beating Villanova in Philadelphia, but nothing was quite like the walk-off shot he made Monday night.
"You always see highlight films of the guys hitting the last shot or guys at the free-throw line making the free throws,'' said Napier. "You want to be the hero. You want to be the guy who's known as the hero at the end of the game. Growing up, I wanted to be Superman. Everyone wants to be a hero. I was fortunate enough to be in the right spot at the right time.''
The undefeated Huskies have now had late-possession wins over Maryland, Boston College and Indiana and now against a depleted, but gritty and determined Florida team.
"I'm happy but I'm a little exhausted,'' said UConn coach Kevin Ollie. "Another one-point game, but once again, we showed our resolve. ... You look on the stat sheet and I don't know how we do it. They shoot 49 percent and out-rebound us but at the end of the day, we get it done. It's a magical team. They've been through a lot.''