DeAndre Daniels averaged 14.7 points per game during the year, but scored 27 points against Iowa State. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
We’ve grown accustomed to seeing Shabazz Napier do out-of-this-world things, but the Huskies are a much tougher team to beat when Ryan Boatright or DeAndre Daniels are hitting shots. Daniels has the length to be a matchup nightmare inside and out, but he’s inconsistent. When he has it going – and Boatright isn’t just settling for long jumpers – UConn is a mismatch for a lot of teams. Iowa State learned that the hard way, as the Huskies moved on to the Elite Eight in Madison Square Garden on Friday night by a score of 81-76.
Daniels scored 27 points, including connecting on six straight shots in the second half, and added 10 rebounds as the Huskies stormed past the Cyclones.
UConn had the early edge in intensity and had the crowd on its side. Iowa State was called for a five-second call just 29 seconds into the game, and the pair of Boatright (16 points) and Napier (19 points, five rebounds, five assists) were aggressive. The two scored 20 of UConn’s first 25 points on 7-of-9 shooting and were 6-of-6 from beyond the arc. UConn was 7-of-12 from deep in the first half.
The Huskies did a good job early on defending the Cyclones in their half court sets. What Iowa State does best is score in quick spurts – it can turn defense into offense off missed shots and turnovers and put together an 8-0 run in a hurry.
It was clear Iowa State could’ve used the injured Georges Niang (16.7 ppg, 4.5 reb, 3.6 ast), especially on the offensive end. Melvin Ejim had a tough time finding his shot. He was 3-of-13 from the floor, and DeAndre Kane, the star of the win over UNC, started 4-of-12 before hitting a few shots late to finish with 16 points. The poor shooting night from Ejim and Kane negated a bright performance from Dustin Hogue. The junior scored a game-high 34 points on 15-of-19 shooting and was the Cyclones' best offensive weapon on the evening. Plus he had one heck of a haircut.
Connecticut has been able to rely on Napier all year long, but it's Daniels and Boatright have been question marks each night. With Napier's teammates playing a major role on both ends of the floor, teams can't key in on Napier, which allows UConn to spread the floor more effectively. That approach now has the Huskies a game away from the Final Four.
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