UConn books tourney trip with West Virginia win

Shabazz Napier brought his team back before fouling out late in the game.

It is a bit of déjà vu all over again for UConn, who booked their ticket to the NCAA tournament on Wednesday afternoon with a 71-67 second round overtime win over West Virginia in the Big East Tournament. 

In a game that featured seven lead changes and 11 tied scores, UConn got the signature win they needed during a season that head coach Jim Calhoun said has “had its ups and downs.” For the second straight season UConn came into the Big East tournament as the No. 9 seed and, like last year, they’ve solidified their place in March Madness with big wins in New York.

“I’m not going to politick. I’m just telling you that if you look at our record that, well, [critics will say] ‘They have only 20 wins,’ yet we played some people,” Calhoun said.

“We played some people folks.”

The Huskies certainly had a mixed resume before tournament play. An 18-12 record is often good enough in a power conference, but their 8-10 Big East mark included some poor losses. Calhoun is right in that they have “played some people.” UConn is No. 34 in the RPI and they had the third toughest strength of schedule in the nation. Factor in two conference tournament wins and UConn is undoubtedly part of the madness.

Now headed to the quarterfinals of the tournament, UConn is playing with house money at this point. The overtime win not only gives the Huskies a second victory this season over West Virginia, a likely tournament team in their own right, it adds to other impressive wins, such as Harvard and Florida State.

But as big as the win on Wednesday was for the Huskies, don’t say that to Calhoun, who was immediately focused on Thursday afternoon.

“We’re just trying to play tomorrow’s basketball game to take it where it may,” Calhoun said.
“We weren’t thinking about the rest of the stuff nor are we today. We’re thinking about playing one of the best, in my opinion, along with Kentucky — one of the best teams in the country tomorrow.”


Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter
@KristianRDyer for live updates and quotes from the Big East tournament all week.


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