Potential fuel for Gators?
Florida might have a little payback in mind in Saturday's NCAA national semifinal. Its opponent, Connecticut, handed the Gators their last loss this season: 65-64 on Dec. 2 in Storrs, Conn., on Shabazz Napier's jumper from the free-throw line as time expired. Florida has since won a school-record 30 in a row.
Napier, who was limping on a left ankle he hurt during a four-point play with 33 seconds left, escaped a trap around 30 feet from the basket and got off a wild shot that missed but was tipped blindly back by DeAndre Daniels. Napier grabbed the ball and let go his winning jumper, prompting the star point guard to celebrate by doing the Gator chomp toward the UConn student section. He finished with 26 points.
The Huskies and Florida, which had a five-game winning streak snapped, exchanged the lead six times in the final six minutes. Daniels, who had been recruited heavily by UF, had 14 points for the Huskies, who were outrebounded 34-26 but made up a size difference with strong guard play on the perimeter.
Casey Prather had 19 points and seven rebounds for UF, and Patric Young had 17 points and seven rebounds. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin, playing in his third game of the season after being suspended for the first four, had 15 points, but he injured an ankle with 3:01 remaining, left the court and did not return.
And if Florida wins, waiting in the final is either Wisconsin, the only other team to beat the Gators, or Kentucky, which has lost three times to UF this season. No team has beaten another four times in one season with the last win coming in the NCAA title game.