UConn gets thumped by Louisville in regular season finale

UConn's Shabazz Napier, right, and Luke Hancock of Louisville battle for the ball during Saturday's game at Louisville, Ky.
UConn's Shabazz Napier, right, and Luke Hancock of Louisville battle for the ball during Saturday's game at Louisville, Ky. Timothy D. Easley/AP photo

Louisville, Ky. — UConn coach Kevin Ollie marveled at a championship-level performance on Saturday.

Unfortunately for the 19th-ranked Huskies, it came from No. 11 Louisville in an 81-48 loss that featured season lows on many levels.

UConn (24-7, 12-6 American Athletic Conference) posted worsts for points and shooting, hitting 29.4 percent (15 of 51). Its 76-64 loss to Louisville in Storrs, was the season's only other double-digit loss.

"Louisville took advantage of everything we did," Ollie said of the defending national champions, who earned a share of the AAC title with the win. "They played like champions and we didn't."

UConn finished the regular season fourth and will play host Memphis in a tournament quarterfinal Thursday night. Louisville got the No. 2 seed after losing a coin flip with Cincinnati and will face the Rutgers-South Florida winner in the quarterfinals.

DeAndre Daniels led UConn with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting and had eight rebounds. Shabazz Napier had nine points and nine rebounds but shot just 2 of 13, including 1 of 10 on 3-point attempts.

Napier knows the feeling of being a champion. He was a key reserve as a freshman on Connecticut's third national championship team in 2011.

His poor outing followed Wednesday's 69-63 win against Rutgers where he made a career-high seven 3s in his final home game.

"We just didn't keep our composure when we needed to," Napier said. "It just resulted in us getting embarrassed out there."

The Huskies missed their first seven shots and didn't get their first field goal until Daniels hit an eight-foot jumper more than 6 ½ minutes into the game.

Louisville (26-5, 15-3) responded quickly with two fast break buckets to lead 17-5 with 12 minutes remaining in the first half.

UConn shot just 20 percent (5 of 25) in the first half and committed 10 of its 22 turnovers.

Napier missed all six of his shots before halftime.

"At the beginning, everybody got down because we weren't really scoring," Daniels said.

"I feel like we let that affect our defense. Once we're not scoring, we just have to keep playing defense and rebounding. If we do that we can stay in the game but we didn't do that tonight."

UConn trailed 30-18 at the break, its lowest first-half output after previously scoring 22 in the opening 20 minutes of its 61-56 comeback win at South Florida on Feb. 26.

Despite winning seven of eight coming in, Saturday marked the latest in a string of low-scoring efforts for the Huskies.

They haven't surpassed 28 points in the first half in four of their last five games and have not scored 70 in regulation in their past seven contests.

Louisville, on the other hand, posted its second straight 80-point game.

Montrezl Harrell had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Russ Smith recorded a career-high 13 assists as the Cardinals swept the season series. UConn dropped to 0-4 at the KFC Yum! Center, losing three to Louisville along with Jim Calhoun's final game as Huskies coach when they fell to Iowa State in the 2012 NCAA tournament.

Advancing in the conference and NCAA tournaments will require marked improvement from what the Huskies showed against Louisville.

"We're at the bottom right now," he said.

"This is the worst we could ever play. But guess what? As bad as we've played, we can turn it around. So, I'm not giving up on this season.

This season is not over yet, but I told them if we play like this we have two games and then everybody can go to spring break."

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