The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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April 5, 2014

Final Four teams do it their way

(Continued)

“They are high right now. They are playing great basketball. They are sharing the basketball. They are all playing hard. They haven’t lost since then. It will be really tough,” Huskies forward DeAndre Daniels said Friday. “We feel great. ... I feel like nobody is playing harder than us right now. We are just out there having fun and not playing for ourselves, but playing for each other.”

Connecticut, the seventh seed in the East Regional, has won nine of its past 11 with both losses to Louisville. That’s no 30-game winning streak, but it’s enough to have the Huskies two wins from a fourth national championship and the first under a coach besides Jim Calhoun.

Florida, the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed, is looking for its third national title, the first two coming in consecutive years under coach Billy Donovan.

“These guys understand what goes into playing and competing, they’re really good as it relates to scouting report and preparation,” Donovan said. “I think they understand how hard they have to play, how well they have to play defensively together, offensively together.”

Shabazz Napier hit a buzzer-beating jumper from the free-throw line to give Connecticut (30-8) the 65-64 victory in Storrs, Conn., four months ago.

Now Connecticut, just like that day before winter even started, has a second chance at Florida.

The Gators were different that day in that freshman guard Kasey Hill was out with an ankle injury and freshman forward Chris Walker was clearing up eligibility issues. Scottie Wilbekin, the do-everything guard who was chosen Southeastern Conference player of the year, was playing in his third game of the season after being suspended for the first four. He had 15 points but injured an ankle with 3:01 to play, was taken to the locker room and never returned.

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