News

UConn tames Wildcats for NCAA title

UConn tames Wildcats for NCAA title

NATIONAL CHAMPS: Connecticut players celebrate against Kentucky during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 7, in Arlington, Texas. Photo: Associated Press/Eric Gay

(Reuters) – Connecticut’s experience trumped Kentucky’s youth as the Huskies prevailed with a 60-54 NCAA national championship victory on Monday that completed a turnaround for the recently penalized program.

Connecticut missed last year’s NCAA tournament, banned from the post-season after failing to meet academic standards, but they restored order this season as they surged to a second title in four years.

Senior Shabazz Napier, one of three players who were also a part of the 2011 championship team, scored 22 points and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, which was played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you’re looking at the hungry Huskies,” Napier told reporters. “This is what happens when you ban us.”

PHOTOS: NCAA mens basketball championship

Point guard Napier’s poise down the stretch helped overcome the tenacious young Kentucky team.

He set up DeAndre Daniels’ layup that gave Connecticut a 58-52 edge with under three minutes left before the Huskies closed it out at the free throw line.

James Young scored 20 to lead Kentucky, a program that boasts five freshmen in their starting lineup and took the college basketball tournament by storm by reaching the final.

They fell behind by 15 points in the first half but clawed their way back to trail just 35-31 at halftime.

Kentucky were never able to take the lead but hung tough down the stretch where they trailed by just four in the final minute.

The Wildcats could face the departure of players to the NBA Draft, including forward Julius Randle who is projected to be a lottery pick if he leaves college.

“It’s about each individual on the team,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari.

“Now it’s about them, and we’ll sit down with each of them and they’ll make decisions for themselves.”

Connecticut second-year coach Kevin Ollie, a former NBA player, led his program to the title in just his first NCAA tournament.

Seventh seed Connecticut and the eighth seeded Wildcats had the highest combined seeding for any two teams to ever play for a national championship.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles, editing by Nick Mulvenney)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

This week’s best sports shots

llws

Some of the best plays and biggest newsmakers from the week in sports.

in National

Making headlines this week

AP_568873619964

A look back at some of this week's biggest newsmakers and the headlines you may have missed.

in National

How low will gas go?

19-overlay12

AAA predicts gas prices could drop below $2 a gallon by the end of the year.

in National

Buzz Aldrin wants to colonize Mars

12-overlay17

The second man to walk on the moon is pushing for a Mars settlement by 2040.

in National

U.S. vaccination rates high, but pockets of unvaccinated pose risk

vaccine

The vast majority of U.S. kindergarten-age children are vaccinated against preventable diseases but sizable pockets of unprotected children still exist, posing a public health threat, according to a government study.