(7) Connecticut 63

(31-8, 12-6 American)

(1) Florida 53

(36-3, 18-0 SEC)

    Coverage: TBS

    6:09 PM ET, April 5, 2014

    AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

    1 2 T
    #7CONN 25 3863
    #1FLA 22 3153

    Top Performers

    Connecticut: D. Daniels 20 Pts, 10 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Florida: P. Young 19 Pts, 5 Reb, 1 Blk

    UConn-Florida Preview

    ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The last time Florida lost there were still 23 shopping days until Christmas.

    The Gators have won every game since that loss at Connecticut on Dec. 2. The teams meet again Saturday in the Final Four. They both have changed and they both have stayed the same.

    "They are high right now. They are playing great basketball. They are sharing the basketball. They are all playing hard. They haven't lost since then. It will be really tough," Huskies forward DeAndre Daniels said Friday. "We feel great. ... I feel like nobody is playing harder than us right now. We are just out there having fun and not playing for ourselves, but playing for each other."

    Connecticut, the seventh seed in the East Regional, has won nine of its last 11 with both losses to Louisville. That's no 30-game winning streak but it's enough to have the Huskies two wins from a fourth national championship and the first under a coach besides Jim Calhoun.

    Florida, the tournament's overall No. 1 seed, is looking for its third national title, the first two coming in consecutive years under coach Billy Donovan.

    "These guys understand what goes into playing and competing, they're really good as it relates to scouting report and preparation," Donovan said. "I think they understand how hard they have to play, how well they have to play defensively together, offensively together."

    Shabazz Napier hit a buzzer-beating jumper from the free throw line to give Connecticut (30-8) the 65-64 victory in Storrs, Conn., four months ago. The dramatic win didn't exactly propel the Huskies as they lost three of their next five games.

    Napier was named the American Athletic Conference player of the year and was a first-team All-America. He took advantage of a freak play to hand the Gators (36-2) one of their two losses -- the other was to Wisconsin, another Final Four team.

    "I was fortunate," he said. "I put up a lousy shot and DeAndre tipped it back out and I was able to get off a great shot. I got a second chance and was fortunate enough to make it."

    Now Connecticut, just like that day before winter even started, has a second chance at Florida.

    The Gators were different that day in that freshman guard Kasey Hill was out with an ankle injury and freshman forward Chris Walker was clearing up eligibility issues. Scottie Wilbekin, the do-everything guard who was chosen Southeastern Conference player of the year, was playing in his third game of the season after being suspended for the first four. He had 15 points but injured an ankle with 3:01 to play, was taken to the locker room and never returned.

    "I was in the locker room and there was a clock but no score," he recalled Friday. "I kept asking one of our managers to go check the score. He came back and said we were up one and there was only a couple of seconds left. I was laying there with ice on my leg and I heard the roar from the crowd and I knew we lost. That was the low point of our season.

    "We're familiar with them, and they're familiar with us. They've done a great job of improving the defense since we played them, especially in the postseason."

    The aim of Gator defense on Saturday will be stopping the 6-foot-1 Napier, who leads the Huskies in scoring (18.1), rebounding (5.9) and assists (4.9), a first for the program. He has scored at least 19 points in the four NCAA tournament games and there hasn't been a big play made by the Huskies that hasn't started or ended with the ball in his hands.

    "I think a lot of times they can give the ball to Shabazz and he can play up top and just create and make plays," Donovan said. "When the ball gets back in his hands, now you're in a very vulnerable situation and that will be something that I think will be a challenge for us tomorrow."

    Wilbekin will have the ball in the final minutes for the Gators. He had a career-high 23 points in the win over Dayton in the South Regional final. The Huskies, specifically Napier, will focus on Wilbekin.

    "We understand that we have to be mentally there on the defensive end," Napier said. "Shots may not fall for us offensively, but if we hang our hats on the defensive end, we have something to fall back on. ... Lately, we have been communicating much better on defense, and I think that is one of the main reasons why our defense has been much better."

    Saturday's meeting will be in front of 75,000 or so at AT&T Stadium. That's a lot different than the 10,167 who packed Gampel Pavilion on Dec. 2.

    "It's a different game. That was four months ago," Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie said. "We're a different team. I'm a different coach. Billy Donovan's definitely got a better understanding of his team and what it takes for his team to win. So it's going to be a whole different game."


    School Info

    Conference American SEC
    Nickname Huskies Gators
    Type Public Public


    » Apr 5, 2014 CONN 63, @FLA 53Recap

    Research Notes

    If Connecticut can upend Florida in tonight's first Final Four game, the Huskies would be the 8th team to beat the No. 1 team in a semifinal. Five of the previous seven went on to win the title, most recently Kansas in 2008.
    Florida is currently a 7-point favorite tonight against Connecticut in the Final Four... In the past 10 seasons, every team who was favored by 5 points or more in the Final Four has won the game outright and then won the National Championship. The last team who was an underdog of 5 points or more to win in the Final Four was Georgia Tech in 2004 (+5) and then Indiana in 2002 (+7).
    Only 4 teams entered the Final Four with 30-plus game winning streaks...and none of them have won the National Championship.
    Connecticut's defense stifled 2 offenses in different ways to advanced to the National Championship. They held Florida to 1-of-10 from 3 Saturday, and forced 11 turnovers while allowing 3 assists. They held the Spartans to just 6 points in the paint during the Elite 8.
    Kevin Ollie is the 3rd coach in the last 30 years to reach the national title game within his first 2 seasons as a Division I head coach, the first since Mike Davis for Indiana in 2002. Steve Fisher reached the title game in 1989 with Michigan in his first season after taking over as head coach right before the NCAA Tournament.
    DeAndre Daniels joins Emeka Okafor as the only UConn players with 20 points and 10 rebounds in a Final Four game (Okafor did it in 2004 National Championship vs Georgia Tech). Daniels notched his 2nd double-double in 5 tournament games after 3 double-doubles in his first 32 games
    DeAndre Daniels is the first player with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in a national semifinal win since Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony in 2003.
    Shabazz Napier is averaging 23.3 points per game in the 2014 Men's Basketball Championship but he isn't doing it alone for Connecticut. DeAndre Daniels has added 17.0 points per game in the tournament and the two have combined for the 2nd-most points among teammates entering the Final Four in the last five seasons. The only pair with more points...former UConn players Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb in 2011.
    DeAndre Daniels put up a huge game in the win against Florida that sent Connecticut to the National Championship game... He is only the 3rd player to drop 20 points and 10 rebounds against the Gators in the Final Four.
    With their win tonight, UConn is now 7-1 all-time in the Final Four, which is the best win percentage with a minimum of three games played.
    DeAndre Daniels is the third player in the last 30 years with 20 points and 10 points in a Final Four win over the AP No. 1 team.

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