Daniels: A star is born in NYC

UConn's DeAndre Daniels, who scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, celebrates in the final seconds of the Huskies' 81-76 win over Iowa State on Friday night in the Sweet 16.
UConn's DeAndre Daniels, who scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, celebrates in the final seconds of the Huskies' 81-76 win over Iowa State on Friday night in the Sweet 16. Seth Wenig/AP Photo

New York - Mild-mannered DeAndre Daniels isn't a flashy guy. He prefers to quietly go about his business.

That's fine with his UConn teammates, as long as Daniels plays a noisy game.

Daniels made a deafening roar in Friday's East Regional semifinals, scoring a personal best in NCAA tournament game. He had 19 of his team-high 27 points in the second half, leading UConn to an 81-76 win over third-seeded Iowa State at Madison Square Garden.

"(Daniels) was unbelievable tonight," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. "Give Kevin (Ollie) credit for continuing to feed the hot hand."

Daniels also did the dirty work under the basket, grabbing a team-best 10 rebounds.

Senior Shabazz Napier calls Daniels the "X factor," and that was certainly the case on Friday night. Daniels showed off his smooth shot, converting 10 of 15 from the field.

"This postseason I'm giving it my all for my teammates and UConn nation," Daniels said.

In three NCAA tournament games, the 6-foot-9 junior forward is averaging 18.7 points.

Defending Kane

During Thursday's press conference, coach Kevin Ollie stressed the importance of containing Iowa State star DeAndre Kane.

For the most part, mission accomplished. Kane looked frustrated at times. He did finish with 16 points, eight rebounds and nine assists but the Huskies never let him take over the game. He went just 6-for-18 from field and 2-for-9 from foul line.

He came in averaging 19 points, 8.5 rebounds and six assists in two NCAA games. He scored the game-winning basket in Sunday's win over North Carolina.

UConn used a variety of defenders on Kane, starting out with Napier and then turning to Lasan Kromah. Freshman Terrence Samuel also chased around Kane.

And the winner is…

UConn faces either fourth-seeded Michigan State (28-8) or top-seeded Virginia (30-6) in the Elite Eight on Sunday afternoon at 2:10 p.m. The two teams played in the late East Regional semifinal game on Friday.

UConn has a postseason history with Michigan State, losing in the 2009 national semifinals, 82-73, in Detroit. Ollie began his UConn head coaching career by shocking Michigan State, 66-62, in Germany in last year's season opener.

The Huskies haven't faced Virginia since 1997, winning 64-61 in overtime in Storrs.

News and notes

The Huskies went 20-for-22 from the foul line. … Samuel, who's from Brooklyn, made a nice contribution off the bench, finishing with 10 points, three rebounds and two assists. .. Entering Friday's game, junior Ryan Boatright had a better career scoring average in NCAA tournament games than Napier. Boatright averaged 12.3 points in three games and Napier 11.2 points in nine games. … When Napier hit his first shot in the first half, he took over sole possession of second place on the school's all-time list for 3-pointers made, passing Ben Gordon. He also tied the all-time record for games played, appearing in his 140th game on Friday. He shares the record with Kevin Freeman, now the director of basketball administration. … The Huskies are 55-29 in their NCAA postseason history, including 35-8 in their last 12 trips. … UConn improved to 60-52 in Madison Square Garden games.

g.keefe@theday.com

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