Through the great University of North Texas, I was able to attend the Final Four Saturday and enjoy the greatness that is AT&T stadium. Having only been at the stadium twice before, this third time was somehow even more spectacular.
The fans from all four teams filed into the stadium wearing their school colors proudly. Uconn’s blue was all around (my seats were in UConn’s student section) & Gator fans were loud and proud. Wisconsin’s red was everywhere and Kentucky’s blue had also made it’s way into the building before their game even started. Me being from UNT and having the great school spirit I have, I obviously wore a green shirt (even though UNT had a terrible season and didn’t even make the NIT).
*FIRST GAME* – UCONN vs FLORIDA
Florida was the favorite but if you’ve watched college basketball this year, you knew this was going to be a fight to the end. Florida had only lost three times this season. Once to Wisconsin & twice to UConn.
Connecticut kept the game at their pace and controlled the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side.
The player to watch coming into the game was Shabazz Napier. He was phenomenal in his ball control and decision making. The skeptics big knock on him is his size and quickness but Saturday he showed he’s got what it takes to take his game to the next level. His first-step is ridiculously quick and what was most impressive were his 6 assists to 2 turnovers. In a college game, a lot of times it comes down to possession and not turning the ball over. For a guy who dominated the ball most of the game, he did a great job of managing and controlling the game.
The player to watch once the game started though was junior forward DeAndre Daniels of UConn. The guy was everywhere. He was by far the most active player in this game. He was banging down low and actually got the best of top-prospect Patric Young of Florida. He definitely has put even more notice of his game to next-level scouts. If he plays like he did Saturday against Kentucky, UConn has a good chance in the game tonight.
*SECOND GAME* KENTUCKY vs. WISCONSIN
Being from Texas i’ve seen a lot of Julius Randle and the Harrison Twins. They were the main attractions a year ago in high school. I knew these guys had talent but with the addition of other future lottery picks, during the season, Kentucky just couldn’t seem to find the chemistry. They had 10 losses coming into the tournament and nobody really gave them a shot to make it this far.
Wisconsin came into the game with a little less star power but one player in particular really caught my eye. Traevon Jackson (son of former Dallas Mavericks great Jimmy Jackson) is a straight baller. The guy almost put the team on his back and lifted them to a NC berth. The lefty from Wisconsin should also get some consideration from next-level scouts as he has the game to make the jump to the NBA.
This game seemed to come down to the final buzzer but as Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said, “this game wasn’t solely decided in the final moments.” Meaning, there were plays to be made before this but they just didn’t get it done.
Kentucky got it done.
Aaron Harrison is just ridiculously clutch and he proved it for the third time on Saturday night. Why would you leave this man open in the final seconds? He’s won the game for UK three times in one tournament, which has never been done before. If it comes down to a final shot again this next game against UConn, then i have some advice for UConn. “Double-Team”.
His brother is the catalyst for this offense though and he must have a good game in this NC if UK wants to pull this one out. Randle is going to have to get big against UConn’s bigs and keep them off the boards.
UConn is a great team. And what they’ve done to get to this point has been amazing. But this is where it ends. Napier is trying his best to do his Kemba Walker impersonation but i just don’t think they have enough to finish the job. Kentucky on the other hand has at least 4 lottery picks and possibly 5. They have gelled at the right moment and there time is now. They will put on a show and the score will be rather lopsided.
UK – 75 – UConn- 53