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Coach Kevin Ollie pumped his fist as the horn sounded in UConn’s 58-56 win overCincinnatiin Friday’s American Athletic Conference tournament semifinal at FedExForum.
The Huskies barely survived, watching Sean Kilpatrick’s contested game-winning attempt bounce off the rim just before the buzzer.
Now fourth-seeded UConn (26-7) plays second-seeded Louisville(28-5) in tonight’s championship game at FedEx Forum. Game time is 6 p.m.
The two teams played for the Big East tournament title in 2011, with UConn winning 69-66.
Here’s a post-game breakdown and video:
-- Junior Ryan Boatright, who hit two big three-pointers in the second half, talked about the game and championship match-up withLouisvillein the attached video.
Boatright finished with 13 points.
-- Ollie on Friday’s win: “It was just a great game. Seems like every time we playCincinnatiit comes down to a one possession game. They’re well-coached and they play hard. We stood up to them and we stayed in the middle of the ring and kept throwing punches.”
-- Four Huskies scored in double figures. Senior Shabazz Napier led the way with 15 points.
-- UConn rode a 17-2 run in the second half to take the lead for good. A sound defense heldCincinnatito only 32 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes.
-- The Huskies did a good job taking care of the basketball in the second half, committing only four turnovers in the second half. They had 11 turnovers in the first half.
“Coach jumped on us at halftime,” Boatright said. “That was the game right there. That’s how we were losing – turnovers and they had too many offensive rebounds.”
UConn battled even on the boards at 29-all.
-- Daniels had a productive game, finishing with 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
“Coming into this game, we knew it was going to be a fight,” Daniels said. “I feel like we fought and showed heart. That’s what I wanted to do.”
-- Freshman center Amida Brimah protected the rim, blocking at least four shots for the eighth time this season. He also had seven rebounds and four points.
-- Cincinnatic oach Mick Cronin: “UConn played extremely well. They made shots. We had defensive breakdowns that for us are inexcusable… and that’s disappointing. That’s probably the biggest problem that I would have tonight.”
-- Napier had a good view of Kilpatrick’s game-winning attempt.
“I thought it was going to go down but he definitely put too much spin on it and it went out the other way.”
The Huskies focused on containing Kilpatrick, who finished with 14 points on 5-for-15 from the field.
-- UConn senior reserve Tyler Olander sat out the game with the stomach bug.
-- The Huskies improved to 6-3 versus ranked opponents.
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.