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There’s a new hit show called Late Night with the Huskies.
They delivered a strong performance in their American Athletic Conference Championship quarterfinal on Thursday night at FedEx Forum.
Leading for nearly the entire game, they rolled to a 72-53 win over Memphis at FedEx Forum. It was their third victory over the Tigers this season.
“It was a phenomenal game,” coach Kevin Ollie said. “We have to fuel back up and get ready forCincinnati.”
Fourth-seede UConn advanced to a semifinal showdown with top-seeded Cincinnati at approximately 9:30 tonight. The teams split the two regular season meetings, each winning low-scoring games at home.
Here’s a post-game breakdown:
-- Check out the attached video of senior Shabazz Napier’s post-game comments in the locker room. He talked about facing Cincinnatiand gave an interesting response when asked about playing against senior Sean Kilpatrick.
Kilpatrick was not happy about losing the AAC player of the year race to Napier, who received the award on Wednesday.
-- Simply put, senior Niels Giffey was great.
Giffey had a career high 24 points, including 14 in the first half. He made a career-best six 3-pointers out of eight attempts. He had a season-best nine rebounds.
The Tigers made a big mistake by basically deciding not to guard Giffey, who went 9-for-11 from the field overall.
-- The Huskies have shot the ball well in both games at FedExForum this season. They converted 53 percent on Thursday and 57 percent in an 83-73 win on Jan. 16.
“I don’t think it’s the building,” Napier said. “I think it’s the way that Memphis plays defense. They double a lot of pick-and-rolls, which leaves guys like Niels open. … Niels got the shots and knocked them down and kept it rolling.”
-- UConn’s stingy defense limited Memphis to a season-low 26.4 percent. The Huskies allowed just 18 points in the paint after giving up 72 in the previous two meetings.
“Memphis is a great team and they score in the paint, so we focused on clogging up the whole paint and helping guys out as soon as the ball came in there and make them make their shots from the outside," Giffey said.
The senior guard trio of Geron Johnson, Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford went a combined 10-for-31 from the field and had 28 points for the Tigers.
-- The Huskies took a 6-4 lead about four minutes into the game and never trailed after that, leading by as many as 25.
-- Memphis freshman Nick King on losing three games to UConn this season: “UConn is a good team, don’t get me wrong, but most of the time I think it’s on us. We had a lot of defensive breakdowns… and couldn’t knock down shots. I believe that’s what it was.”
-- Napier, who scored 11 points, passed Ben Gordon and moved into sixth place on the all-time scoring list. He’s also fourth in three-pointers made.
-- Ollie emptied his bench near the end of the game but elected not to play sophomore Omar Calhoun, who’s stuck in a prolonged funk.
-- The Huskies scored over 70 points for the first time since their last game against Memphis on Feb. 15.
-- UConn rebounded from its worst loss of the season (81-48) at Louisville Saturday.
-- Ollie made two changes to the starting lineup, going with Giffey and Phil Nolan instead of Amida Brimah and Lasan Kromah.
“I just wanted to do something different,” Ollie said. “Those guys were still going to play. … I knowLouisville, they tried to wear Shabazz and Ryan Boatright down and we wanted to give them more space. Niels made me look like I was a good coach, so thank you, Niels.”
-- Brimah had a career-high three assists to go with three points, four rebounds and two blocks in an active 17 minutes.
-- No. 21 UConn improved to 5-3 against ranked teams this season. Memphis is ranked 19th.
Today’s American Athletic Conference Championship semifinal doubleheader is underway here at the XL Center in Hartford. A crowd in the 12,000-13,000 range is expected for the UConn-Tulsa game. Tip-off time is 5 p.m.