College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 30, 2014
As he's been doing for the better part of the season, Shabazz Napier put the UConn Huskies on his back and mushed his team to another important victory, this one over the Michigan State Spartans for a trip to the Final Four in Dallas with a 60-54 victory.
With a game-high 25 points, Napier scored the key buckets and made big plays in the final minutes to lead his squad to their biggest win of the year and a rematch with the Florida Gators in a national semi-final on Saturday.
Napier was just 6-for-14 from the field, but that included a 4-for-9 mark from three point range and perfection at the foul line where he made all nine of his free throws. The senior point guard also grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists.
Up 51-49 with under two minutes to play, Napier put the Huskies - the 11 seed in the East region - up by four with a short jumper and, after Michigan State's Adreian Payne scored a pair of free throws, Napier was fouled attempting a three-pointer with 30 seconds to go and calmly stepped to the line and sank all three foul shots for a five point UConn lead.
Michigan State missed a three-point attempt and Napier fed Phillip Nolan for a dunk with 15 seconds left which sealed the victory.
The Huskies will face Florida on Saturday, meeting the Gators for the first time since December 2 when they beat the Gators, 65-64. Since then, Florida has run off 30 straight wins and enter the Final Four as the #1 seed from the South region.
The last spot in the Final Four was completed in rousing fashion late Saturday afternoon as Kentucky upset Michigan in the Midwest region final, 75-72. Kentucky, the #8 seed in the region got a clutch performance from Aaron Harrison, who hit four three-pointers in the final eight minutes, the last one coming with just three seconds in the game, breaking a 72-all tie and sending the Wildcats to a Final Four meeting with Wisconsin.