7:27 PM ET, March 28, 2014
Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
NEW YORK -- DeAndre Daniels' UConn teammates were going to keep passing him the ball until he cooled off.
By the time that happened, it was too late for Iowa State.
Daniels scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half, and the Huskies hung on for an 81-76 victory Friday to reach the East Regional final a year after UConn was barred from the NCAA tournament.
"DeAndre's a scorer, and once you feel that you have that confidence, the next shot's going to go in," said senior Shabazz Napier, who knows a thing or two about scoring himself. "We kept feeding him, and he got super hot."
Daniels hit his first six shots after halftime, the only Husky to make a field goal for over 8 1/2 minutes. His 3-pointer gave seventh-seeded UConn a 49-32 lead.
The third-seeded Cyclones rallied late, pulling within 67-63 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining. But senior Niels Giffey hit a 3 in the corner for his first points since the game's opening moments, and when the Huskies (29-8) made their free throws in the final minute, the UConn fans packing Madison Square Garden could celebrate.
The Huskies will face fourth-seeded Michigan State on Sunday for a trip to the Final Four.
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The Cyclones, in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2000, were playing their second game without third-leading scorer Georges Niang, who broke his foot in their tournament opener.
They trailed by 16 with less than 7 1/2 minutes to go but nearly came all the way back behind Hogue's scoring inside.
"That's who these guys are, they're fighters," coach Fred Hoiberg said.
With UConn clinging to a 70-65 lead and less than a minute left, Iowa State's Naz Long missed a 3-pointer, and the 6-1 Napier pulled down the rebound and was fouled by Hogue. The guard calmly drilled both free throws.
UConn was 20 of 22 from the foul line, while Iowa State was 6 of 15.
Shoot, They're Good
The Huskies shot it better from all over the floor and from the line on Friday night, while Iowa State was only able to stay in it because it hit the offensive glass hard to get extra shots. Here's a look:
|3-pt FG pct||47.4||37.5|
|-- ESPN Stats & Information|
Napier, the American Athletic Conference player of the year, drained four early 3-pointers, then made only one more field goal the rest of the way. But the quick start by Napier and backcourt mate Ryan Boatright opened up space for the 6-foot-9 Daniels, an inconsistent junior who can score all over the court when he's on.
Since a stretch in late February and early March when he failed to reach double figures in four straight games, Daniels had averaged 15 in his last six outings before Friday. Then against Iowa State, he shot 10 of 15 and pulled down 10 rebounds.
"With our seniors on this team, I just want them to go out with a bang," Daniels said.
Ejim and DeAndre Kane, Iowa State's top scorers, were a combined 9 of 31. But Hogue, from nearby Yonkers, found plenty of space, shooting 15 for 19.
"To play in the Garden, it's something I dreamed about as a kid," he said.
After Napier's difficult early 3-pointers -- he was falling away on two of them and stepping back to open a sliver of space on a third -- Boatright and Daniels took over. The three combined for all but six of the Huskies' points as they built a 36-26 halftime lead.
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Second-year coach Kevin Ollie is now 3-0 in the NCAA tournament after taking over for mentor Jim Calhoun, who gave him a big hug after this one was over. The last time UConn made it this far, the Huskies won a national title when Napier and Giffey were freshmen.
The current upperclassmen could have transferred after the program's low scores on the NCAA's academic progress measure kept UConn from last year's Big East and NCAA tournaments.
"We were banned from a lot of things," Ollie said. "We couldn't come here for the tournament, but they weren't banned from loving and pushing and encouraging each other, and that's what it's all about. Those dark times, if you don't give up in the dark times, it will reverse, the wind will start going in your favor, your direction.
"And I think that's what's happened now."
NCAA Mens Tournament
Around Champ Week
Deciding factor: UConn's balance. Shabazz Napier started hot and knocked down four early 3-pointers to help the Huskies build a big lead. Then, it was DeAndre Daniels' turn, as the big man finished with 27 points to help his team hang on for the win.
Player of the game: Daniels. His 10 rebounds gave him a double-double, and he scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half, proving that UConn is not just the Napier show.
Key stat: As they have done all tournament, the Huskies knocked down their free throws when it mattered most. They were 13-for-14 in the game's final five minutes, making them 48-for-53 in the final five minutes of tournament games.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||26-50 (.520)||32-69 (.464)|
|3P Made-Attempted||9-19 (.474)||6-16 (.375)|
|FT Made-Attempted||20-22 (.909)||6-15 (.400)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||15 (0/0)||17 (0/0)|
|» Mar 28, 2014||CONN 81, @ISU 76||Recap|
Dustin Hogue's 34 points tie an Iowa State tournament record that he now shares with Lafester Rhodes and Dedric Wiloughby.
Shabazz Napier has scored or assisted on 35 points per game in the 2014 Men's Basketball Championship, two fewer than Kemba Walker in 2011. However, the 2011 version of the Huskies averaged 14 fewer points per game.[+]
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ESPN Stats & Information