ARLINGTON, Texas -- DeAndre Daniels scored 20 points with 10 rebounds to help UConn upset top-ranked Florida 63-53 Saturday night in the Final Four at AT&T Stadium.
The Huskies (31-8) advance to their second national championship game in four years and will play the winner of Wisconsin-Kentucky on Monday night. UConn has already won national titles in Houston and San Antonio.
"It sounds crazy right now," said UConn junior Ryan Boatright, who scored 13 points with six rebounds. "Like I said before, we are blessed and are grateful to be in the national championship game.
"We didn't come to Dallas to just play in the national championship game. We came to win."
Shabazz Napier added 12 points and Niels Giffey 11 for UConn, which shot 63.6 percent (24-for-43) in the second half and 55.8 percent for the game. The Huskies closed the game making nine of its last 10 field-goal attempts.
Patric Young led the Gators (36-3), who had a 30-game win streak snapped, with 19 points.
UConn outscored Florida 21-6 in the final 8:49 of the first half to take a 25-22 lead at the break. Daniels scored 10 points and UConn shot 47.6 percent, including 4-for-7 on 3-pointers, in that stretch.
UConn pushed its lead to as large as 10 points in the second half -- 37-27 with 13:10 to play. But the Gators climbed back in with an 11-4 run, cutting the lead to 41-38 with 9:12 left on Casey Prathers' three-point play.
These Huskies never worried, though, answering back with a 10-3 run to lead 51-41 with 5:28 left using their "Little Huskies" lineup of Napier, Daniels, Giffey, Terrence Samuel and Boatright with Amida Brimah and Phil Nolan in foul trouble.
Despite having its big men in foul trouble, UConn finished with a 36-24 edge in the paint and won the rebound battle 28-27.
"It was a great victory," said UConn coach Kevin Ollie, who reaches the national championship in just his second season. "We stayed positive and productive."
The opening 11 minutes belonged to the Gators, who cruised out to a 16-4 lead -- their largest lead in the first meeting was eight points in the first half. UConn was 2-for-9 to start the game and committed six turnovers. Scottie Wilbekin's jumper with 9:48 left gave Florida its 12-point lead.
Then the Huskies arrived. Daniels nailed a 3-pointer with 8:49 remaining and UConn hit four straight baskets -- Boatright with a 3-pointer, Samuel for two and Daniels with another 3 -- to break off an 11-0 run and close within a point, 16-15. The scoring binge came over a 1:32 stretch.
Napier cracked the scoring column with a 3-pointer with 3:54 left in the half, and Giffey gave UConn its first lead with a three-point play at 3:18, making it 21-20. Napier and Daniels added baskets to help the Huskies go into the locker room up three. Read Full Article
STAR OF THE GAME: Daniels. The Huskies needed a lift with a struggling offense in the first half and he hit two 3-pointers on an 11-0 run that pulled UConn within a point, 16-15. It's his second double-double of the NCAAs (27 points, 10 rebounds against Iowa State)
KEYS TO WIN: The Huskies outscored Florida 27-6 over a 13-minute stretch that turned a 16-4 hole into a 31-22 lead. UConn outrebounded the Gators 28-27 and held them to 38.8 percent shooting. UConn was 5-for-12 from 3-point range.
NOTES: The Huskies came in 1-2 against No. 1-ranked teams in the NCAA tournament. They beat Duke in 1999 to win the national championship, but lost to North Carolina (1998) and UCLA (1995) in the Elite Eight. ... UConn is 7-1 in Final Four games, including 6-1 under Jim Calhoun and 1-0 under Ollie. ... The Gators outscored the opposition by 13.6 points per game in their 36 wins.
UP NEXT: National championship, 9:10 p.m. Monday (CBS)
-- WILLIAM S. PAXTON