Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Shabazz Napier, Jeremy Lamb Lead UConn to OT Win at Villanova

College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, February 20, 2012

In overtime, Villanova's Ty Johnson tied the game with Connecticut at 70-all on a layup, leaving just 5.8 seconds on the clock. It looked like the game was going into double overtime, but Shabazz Napier had other ideas, racing down the court and throwing up a very long 3-point attempt that swished through the net, giving UConn a 73-70 lead that would hold up as the Wildcats had no answer with just 0.6 seconds left on the clock.

Napier and the Huskies saved their season, for the moment. With head coach Jim Calhoun sidelined with health issues, the Huskies had entered the road game at Villanova with just two wins in its last nine contests. The losses had been piling up and there was even talk that Connecticut, the reigning NCAA champions, might not make it into the NCAA field.

The Huskies fell behind early on, down 18 points in the first half, but rallied to tie the score at 30-30 at the break. Jeremy Lamb finished with a career high 32 points, scoring in just about every conceivable manner as the Huskies struggled to stay in the game. Lamb was 11-for-19 from the field with two 3-pointers. He was also 8-for-11 from the line and scored all 10 of Connecticut's points in overtime prior to Napier's game-winner.

Napier scored just six points, all on a pair three-pointers, but the last one was truly epic and important, getting the Huskies to 7-8 in conference play and 17-10 overall. For now, Connecticut appears to have found a path back to the big dance, though they face Syracuse, Providence and Pitt to close out the regular season and will probably have to earn a few wins in the Big East tourney to secure a spot.

As big as the win was for the Huskies, it cannot be overstated that the team they beat is just 4-11 in conference play and has an overall mark of 11-16. Connecticut earned their road win, but the opposition was not what most people would call a quality team.

NOTABLE: Quincy Acy scored 22 points to go with 16 rebounds (8 offensive) as #13 Baylor (23-5) took down Texas, 77-72, an important road win for the Bears who came into the game losers of three of their last four.

The loss left the unranked Longhorns (7-8, 17-11) roundly on the tournament bubble.

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