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UConn holds a Garden party (video)

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: theday.com

Published March 31. 2014 7:00AM   Updated April 03. 2014 1:39PM

What an incredible day for the UConn basketball team and their fans at Madison Square Garden.

Fans turned out in full force on Sunday, creating an electric and rowdy atmosphere.

The Huskies fed off that energy and generated their own intensity to beat fourth-seeded MichiganState, 60-54, in the East Regional finals. They're heading to the Final Four for the fifth time in school history.

Senior Shabazz Napier, the regional's most outstanding player, scored a game-high 25 points to help the Huskies rally from a nine-point second half deficit.

"It was just an amazing feeling to do it in Madison Square Garden," coach Kevin Ollie said.

The post-game celebration was quite the party.

An emotional Ollie and former coach Jim Calhoun hugged near mid-court. The Huskies gathered for a team photo with the regional championship trophy and wore championship hats and t-shirts.

Several former UConn standouts, including Rip Hamilton and Taliek Brown who won national championships in 1999 and 2004, respectively, joined the fun.

The Huskies took turns climbing the ladder and cutting down the net. Ollie snipped the last piece and showed the net to the giddy fans soaking in the joyous celebration. He encouraged them to make even more noise, if that was even possible.

Check out the attached video of some of that net-cutting ceremony.

They last cut down the nets at Madison Square Gardenafter winning the Big East tournament title in 2011. They kept rolling all the way to a national championship.

UConn will travel toTexas to play Florida in Saturday night's first national semifinal at 6:09 p.m. at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

The Gators have won 30 straight games since losing to UConn inStorrson Dec. 2. Napier hit a game-winning basket at the buzzer.

"We're going to play a great Florida team and we're going to be well-prepared, because I know about these guys' heart, and that's what got us through, a heart of a champion, a heart of a lion, " Ollie said. "I love these guys."

Here's a good sign: The last two times UConn traveled to Texas for the Final Four, it won the national championship – 2004 in San Antonio and 2011 in Houston.

Look for a lot more coverage this week on UConn's magical post-season run. The Huskies will be shooting to win the program's fourth national championship. They're 6-1 in their previous four trips, owning the best Final Four winning percentage in NCAA history.

Kentucky and Wisconsinwill meet in the other semifinal on Saturday.


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