UConn 73, Cincinnati 66 OT

John F. Silver

HARTFORD, Conn. — Shabazz Napier did it again.

The junior guard is the heart and mind of the UConn men’s basketball team and his flare for the dramatic was on display once again.

Napier scored 27 points, 11 in overtime including three 3-pointers, and the Huskies (18-7, 8-5) rallied to defeat Cincinnati 73-66  in a Big East game at the XL Center in Hartford on Thursday. 

It was an ugly game at times for the Huskies, who scored only 18 points in the second half, but they were able to force overtime with a bank shot with 40 seconds to go.

Once it went into overtime, it was Napier time once again. The junior has made a habit of bailing the Huskies out late and he did it again.

Napier hit two 3-pointers in the first two minutes of overtime and with 1:26 left, and UConn leading 63-60, nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key while falling down to increase the lead 66-60. Napier scored 11 of his game-high 27 points in the overtime as the Huskies scored 18 points in five minutes, equaling their second half totals.

The Huskies led at the half 37-34, but trailed 53-49 with just over three minutes left. That’s when DeAndre Daniels hit a 3-pointer from the wing to close the score to 53-52 with 3:15 left. Napier hit 1 of 2 free throws to tie the game but

Napier took over from there. He hit a free-throw to tie the game and after Titus Rubles jumper, tied the game with 40 seconds left. Napier nearly won the game in the final seconds, but his circus shot in the lane bounced off the front rim.

DeAndre Daniels added 17 points while Omar Calhoun, playing with a taped right wrist, added 10 points.

Sean Kilpatrick scored 18 for Louisville.

Napier’s heroics in overtime are well-documented. In five overtime games, and six overtime periods, Napier has scored 45 points, which computes to an astounding 60.67 points per 40 minutes.

That made up for UConn once again getting destroyed on the boards 44-28, and also helped them withstand a nearly nine minute scoring drought in the second half.