Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NCAA Tournament: UConn Stays Just Out Of Reach, Defeats Kentucky 60-54

Kentucky’s run in the 2014 NCAA Tournament came up six points short. The UConn Huskies eluded UK’s grasp all night long and ground out a 60-54 victory. As usual, Kentucky got down early. UConn raced out to a 17-8 lead. They then added a 13-7 run to that to double up the Cats 30-15.

Kentucky went to a zone and forced a couple of turnovers and bounced back with a critical 5-0 run to cut it to 30-20. This was part of a 16-5 overall run that resulted in Kentucky trailing 35-31 at the break. Again, they had to feel good only being down by four.

Everyone knew coming in that Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright were the main two cogs to the UConn engine. They came in averaging 30 points and 9.3 boards between the both of them. They finished with 36 points and 10 rebounds.

Being short in stature you knew the type of game they would have to play to offset Kentucky’s size advantage. The step back jumper had to be their best friend, as well as the shot fake and the tough take to the rim. They have to be given credit as they were able to accomplish all of the above.

Incoming freshman Tyler Ulis has the potential to provide a similar dynamic for Kentucky next season.

Napier and Boatright didn’t play a perfect game, they had some unforced errors. Kentucky adjusted to their quickness and forced them into some other miscues. However they controlled the game and made timely plays when they needed to make them. Niels Giffey made some key shots down the stretch as well.

Kentucky’s prime opportunities to make a move came at varying points in the second half but the key bucket eluded them as they trailed by a single point on several occasions. Defensively Kentucky erased several UConn scoring opportunities right at the rim. However, they also left several points at the free throw line (13-24) that could have made a difference.

UConn led the entire game, so you must tip your cap. They were the better team last night.

This article can’t be finished without mentioning James Young. He scored a team high 20 points last night and did a pretty nice Alex Poythress impersonation along the way.

I did not see that coming. Maybe a floater, or a double clutch attempt to draw contact and get to the line. He got to the line alright, and punched one on DeAndre Daniels and Amida Brimah in the process. Amazing play on his part.

In the end, Cal summed it up pretty well.

When the brackets were announced many in Big Blue Nation didn’t envision Kentucky playing for the title this year. Not only did they come out of that gauntlet of a bracket in the Midwest Region to be the last one standing. They made it to the Final Four and were one of the last two standing in Dallas.

They literally played their best, most complete basketball in March and April which led to them competing for a title. That’s all you can ask for.

Tags: 2014 NCAA Tournament James Young Ryan Boatright Shabazz Napier

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