Published January 26. 2014 4:00AM Updated January 26. 2014 9:38PM
UConn certainly will miss playing against Rutgers.
The Huskies won for the 20th time in the last 22 meetings, earning an 82-71 victory Saturday night at the Rutgers Athletic Center. The Scarlet Knights are moving to the Big Ten next season. The two teams play one more time on March 5 in Storrs.
Senior Shabazz Napier added to his impressive resume, pouring in 20 of his game-high 26 points in the second half.
The Huskies improved to 16-4 overall, 4-3 in the American Athletic Conference.
"It was just a great win…," coach Kevin Ollie said. "It gets us over .500. (It was) a big momentum game for us. We've got a lot of teams that we're looking up at."
Here's a post-game breakdown and video:
-- Junior DeAndre Daniels showed some toughness by battling through a high right ankle sprain. He earned praise from Ollie for eventually returning to the game.
Daniels fell over teammate Ryan Boatright and went down in pain under the basket with just over four minutes left in the second half. He needed help to get to the bench and eventually went to the locker room with team trainer James Doran and Dr. Jeffrey Anderson.
It didn't look good at the time.
But Daniels returned to action about six minutes into the second half. He contributed only one basket but helped the Huskies close out the game, finishing with seven points and five rebounds in 21 minutes.
"He just gutted it out, man," Ollie said. "That's what it is all about. That's the toughness that we need to see. Not only the coaching staff but our players need to see that."
Napier said: "He showed a lot of guts."
Daniels has time to heal. UConn's next game is Thursday against Houston.
He wore a walking boot after the game.
"I'm feeling all right," Daniels said. "My ankle is kind of messed up right now."
Check out the attached video to listen to Daniels' post-game remarks.
-- After a slow start, Napier played the role of superhero once again. He scored 20 of UConn's last 34 points in the final 15 minutes, 11 seconds.
"That second half was up there with a lot of great second halves that our great players have played," Ollie said. "You put the ball in his hands and he just makes play after play after play."
Napier is on a tear, averaging 27.7 points in the last three games. That represents the most points that he's scored in any three-game stretch in his career.
-- Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan on UConn: "They're a good team with a great player. When they open the floor like that and a great player does his thing, it's very frustrating. The frustration got to us a little bit and we didn't keep our poise."
"… If he's got it cooking, it's a hard thing to guard, because he's a good passer, he sees the floor, he's unselfish. Yet, he's an assassin."
-- Ollie raved about his team's defense in the second half. Rutgers shot just 32 percent (8-for-25) and had only one field goal in the final 8:58. The Scarlet Knights converted 40.4 percent overall.
"I really like 32 percent," Ollie said. "We can talk about offense all we want to, but I hang my hat on defense and rebounding. We showed up great in the second half doing that."
-- UConn won the rebounding battle, 34-29. The Huskies improved to 10-0 when out-rebounding an opponent this season.
They also out-scored the Scarlet Knights, 34-12, in the paint.
-- It was a strange start to the game. The officials call a technical foul onRutgersfor a pre-game dunk. Yes, that's against the rules. And it's dumb rule, too.
Napier made one of two free throws before the jump ball. It was the only free throw that he missed all game as he finished 10 for 11.
-- Sophomore reserve Omar Calhoun sat out with a sprained ankle. He suffered the injury in Tuesday's win overTempleand decided not to play after participating in the team shoot-around earlier on Saturday.
"Hopefully, he'll back for Houston," Ollie said.
-- Freshman Amida Brimah was a big factor in the first half, scoring all 10 of his points. He finished with a team-best eight rebounds and added two blocks in 20 minutes overall.
It was only the second double figure scoring game of his young career.
-- Rutgers guard Myles Mack, who came in averaging a team-best 16.5 points, had just six points on 2-for-9 shooting.
The credit goes to Boatright who aced the tough defensive assignment.
"Boatright did a tremendous job on him," Napier.
-- The Huskies showed why they're the league's best free throw shooting team, sinking 24 of 30, or 80 percent.
-- Kadeem Jack and Jerome Seagears led Rutgerswith 19 points apiece. Jack also had 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Starting forward Wally Judge had a miserable game, fouling out without scoring a point or grabbing a rebound in 10 minutes of play.
-- Jordan's Rutgers team came up short on Saturday. And he did, too, when trying to recall the names of two UConn players.
"They've got two 3-point shooters with some size," Jordan said. "I don't know their names. Number 5 and number 2, I don't know."
Senior Niels Giffey wears No. 5 and Daniels No. 2.
Daniels wears No. 2 and Giffey No. 5.