This was one of the most unpredictable tournaments in history with two underdog teams. Kentucky put up a great fight and it was a close game all the way through but UConn stayed strong through the end and continued their lead. Shabazz Napier turned in another all-court masterpiece Monday night to lift the Huskies to a 60-54 win over Kentucky’s freshmen and bring home a championship hardly anyone saw coming.The senior guard had 22 points, six rebounds and three assists, and his partner in defensive lock-down, Ryan Boatright, finished with 14 points.
The victory comes only a short year after the Huskies were barred from March Madness because of grades problems. That stoked a fire no one could put out in 2014. Napier kneeled down and put his forehead to the court for a long while after the buzzer sounded. He was wiping back tears when he cut down the net. Aaron Harrison, who pulled out wins with clutch 3-pointers in Kentucky’s last three games, missed a 3 from the left corner that would’ve given the Cats the lead.
Kentucky never got that close again. That was a huge moment and momentum shifter in the game. UConn was one step ahead of Kentucky all night, holding off furious rally after furious rally.
Even through the loss Kentucky’s coach was pleased with the season and the team. He called his group the most coachable bunch he’s ever had. They were pre-season No. 1, a huge disappointment through much of this season. They were seeded an uninspiring eighth for the tournament and came on strong in time for a run to the final.
Napier was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player and he earned it on both ends of the court, keeping a hand in Aaron Harrison’s face most of the night and holding him to a 3-for-7, seven-point, no-damage night.
The UConn women’s team also plays in the Championships tonight and if they win the team will become one of the first teams to sweep away both titles for the same school.