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UConn knocks off No. 11 Cincinnati despite off-night from Shabazz Napier

Mar 1, 2014, 2:29 PM EST

Shabazz Napier, Ge'Lawn Guyn

No. 11 Cincinnati is the kind of team that should, theoretically, give UConn problems.

They are good as anyone in the country defensively, and UConn is not a difficult team to develop a game-plan for. Slow down Shabazz Napier, makes life difficult for Ryan Boatright and Deandre Daniels, and win. The Bearcats attack the offensive glass as well as any team in the country, and UConn is not even in the top 250 nationally in defensive rebounding percentage. Think about it like this: Napier had 11 rebounds for the Huskies on Saturday. No one else had more than four boards on a night the two teams combined to shoot 29.5% from the floor.

Cincinnati is bigger, more physical and older than UConn.

Yet it was the Huskies that left the XL Center on Sunday with a 51-45 win over the Bearcats despite Napier, Boatright and Daniels combined to shoot 9-for-30 from the field. That’s a great sign for the Huskies, who haven’t exactly been playing their best basketball of late. They struggled to win at Temple and USF and got worked over by SMU team at home, a team that plays an awful lot like the Bearcats.

The best news for UConn is that this win should help them climb above a seven-seed. Napier, who finished with 18 points and 11 boards, is talented enough that he can lead UConn to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, but I’m not sure this UConn team can beat elite teams when they’re at full strength on a neutral court.

The Huskies are a No. 7 seed in the latest bracket posted by our Dave Ommen.

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