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Jones didn't wait to impact Kansas State -10/1/2014, 10:23 AM

HHS soccer falls on road -10/1/2014, 10:23 AM

Tiger golfers finish 10th on home course -10/1/2014, 10:23 AM

After big win, Tigers back to work -10/1/2014, 3:09 PM

Chiefs' Smith in a groove -10/1/2014, 10:23 AM

Late surge pushes Dodge past TMP -10/1/2014, 10:22 AM

Monarch XC sweeps titles at Lyons -10/1/2014, 10:22 AM

Tigers' Cole earns MIAA soccer honor -9/30/2014, 3:10 PM

Royals' playoff appearance years in the making for some fans -9/30/2014, 10:34 AM

Chiefs offense gets rolling in rout -9/30/2014, 10:31 AM

California has four teams in the playoffs for the first time -9/30/2014, 10:31 AM

TMP golf finishes third at Hoisington meet -9/30/2014, 10:35 AM

Monarchs move to 14-10 -9/30/2014, 10:30 AM

Big 12 coaches react to firing -9/30/2014, 10:21 AM

HHS volleyball goes 2-3 in Newton -9/29/2014, 10:27 AM

HHS tennis places third at Garden City Invitational -9/29/2014, 4:16 PM

Tiger tennis finishes fall season 5-2 -9/29/2014, 10:27 AM

MNF for Chiefs -9/29/2014, 10:27 AM

Royals' starters rest in win -9/29/2014, 10:26 AM

KU shows Weis the door -9/29/2014, 10:26 AM

Jayhawks take the conservative route in their loss to Texas -9/28/2014, 9:43 AM

FHSU soccer cruises past SW Baptist -9/28/2014, 7:03 PM

Victoria takes advantage for close win at Ness -9/28/2014, 1:14 AM

Plainville grabs first win, beats TMP -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Area prep football roundup: Otis-Bison, Kinsley set record -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Wildcats roll -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Delton, HHS run past Garden City -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Tiger women's soccer picks up 1-0 win at Southern -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Tiger women's XC wins at Emporia State -9/27/2014, 7:12 PM

Kansas City clinches first playoff berth since 1985 -9/27/2014, 7:02 PM

Tigers take down No. 8 Pitt State -9/27/2014, 6:53 PM

Kansas linebacker Jake Love lives on instincts -9/26/2014, 11:06 AM

Like old times, Kansas State takes pride in stuffing the run -9/26/2014, 10:57 AM

FHSU women fall 2-1 -9/26/2014, 10:23 AM

Big win for Tiger soccer -9/26/2014, 10:46 AM

Tough test for Tiger football -9/26/2014, 10:23 AM

Hays High, TMP move to 4A -9/26/2014, 10:24 AM

One more win and Royals are in -9/26/2014, 10:47 AM

HHS XC second at McPherson meet -9/26/2014, 10:25 AM

Indian soccer snaps skid -9/26/2014, 10:47 AM

HHS golf clinches share of WAC title -9/26/2014, 10:48 AM

Monarchs, Cardinals seek first win -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Royals drop game at Cleveland -9/25/2014, 10:26 AM

UTEP football coach Sean Kugler hopes to build a program that can emulate Kansas State -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Indians hit the road -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Giants, Redskins trying to avoid steeper climb in East -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

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Atwood 76, St. Francis 65

Dighton 62, Oberlin 47

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Minneapolis 68, Russell 35

Rock Hills 42, Natoma 37

Salina Central 62, Andover 58

Salina South 62, Sacred Heart 47

Sharon Springs 75, Leoti 38

St. John's Beloit-Tipton 57, Osborne 34

Sylvan-Lucas 61, Thunder Ridge 48

Girls

Dighton 44, Atwood 11

Dodge City 71, Hays High 28

Hesston 51, Goodland 18

Hoisington 60, Victoria 46

Hoxie 65, St. Francis 13

Lincoln 33, Lakeside 26

Minneapolis 47, Otis-Bison 24

Osborne 59, Wilson 34

Sharon Springs 63, Oberlin 42

Sylvan-Lucas 43, Natoma 41 (ot)

Tescott 41, Rock Hills 33

Trego 56, Leoti 27

Thunder Ridge 33, St. John's Beloit-Tipton 30

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SPOTLIGHT
Huskies punch ticket, kick MSU

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Huskies punch ticket, kick MSU

Published on -3/31/2014, 10:20 AM

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By Dom Amore

McClatchy-Tribune

NEW YORK -- The trends were all going against UConn, a position in which the Huskies have found themselves many times, in many ways, the past couple of years.

Michigan State had built a nine-point lead when coach Kevin Ollie called time out.

"And when Coach looks at me in a certain way," Shabazz Napier said, "I just know I've got to be more aggressive."

All of this has become familiar for the Huskies, so familiar that it just takes a look to push the right buttons. Napier hit a three-pointer out of that timeout, and suddenly UConn was back to pressuring on defense, creating turnovers, making critical shots. Napier, as he has done so many times, was carrying the day.

And although old rivals might be going to one power conference or another, the Huskies, when they were finished on Sunday, were going back to place that has become quite familiar -- the Final Four.

"It was just an amazing feeling to do it at Madison Square Garden," Ollie said. "...It puts a great bow on this gift, and we're going to unwrap it again down in Texas."

Napier scored 25 points to lead UConn to a 60-54 victory over Michigan State in the East Regional Final at the Garden. It's a new world in college basketball, a new coach and a strange new conference, the American Athletic, but the Huskies' tradition endures.

"Kevin learned from Jim [Calhoun]," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "His teams play the same way -- hard, tough. It's in the DNA over there."

The Huskies (30-8) are going to the Final Four for the fifth time since 1999, the third time since 2009, poised to pursue a fourth national championship. Ollie, who took over for Calhoun in September 2012, was never afraid to think out of that one-game-at-a-time box. He took the Huskies to AT&T Stadium, site of the Final Four, during a trip to Dallas in January, after one of their worst losses of the season.

"Coach Ollie did that for a reason," Napier said. "He wanted to motivate us to understand what we can be if we work hard. I guess it worked. We don't want to lose."

UConn will play Florida, the top-ranked team in the country, the top-seeded team in the entire tournament, in the national semifinals next Saturday. UConn beat Florida at Gampel Pavilion on Dec. 2; the Gators have not lost since.

"We told ourselves we deserve to be here," DeAndre Daniels said. "We're going to work hard and believe in ourselves. Just picturing the Dallas arena, we were all talking about it [Saturday night], how crazy it would be if we got there."

The Huskies came out with a surge, the crowd at the Garden sounding as if it were a packed Gampel Pavilion, only twice its size. UConn's defense forced a handful of turnovers, and the Huskies started out, as they did Friday night, with their shooting touch.

Napier hit a fall-away three to give UConn an 11-2 lead, and Daniels, who had scored two early field goals, added a free throw to make it a 10-point lead with 15:12 left in the half.

"We wanted to fight," Ollie said. "We wanted to throw the first punch, and I think we did that."

The Spartans took the punch, then began fighting back, their defense asserting itself and cooling off the Huskies' shooters. Adreian Payne, the 6-10 forward, stepped out and hit a couple of wide-open three-point goals to help Michigan State trim the lead to two points.

As the game settled in to the grinding defensive affair that was expected, Gary Harris (22 points) hit threes on successive trips down the floor to give the Spartans their first lead, 22-21, with 3:27 to go. Harris was 5-for-7 in the first half, the most effective shooter on the floor, scoring 12.

Denzel Valentine's three just before the half gave Michigan State a 25-21 lead, as UConn made only 8 of its last 22 shots. The going got rougher in the second half when Payne hit another open three to extend the Spartans lead to nine points with 16:33 to play.

"Coach told us to keep our composure," Napier said. "They made their run, now we were going to make ours."

Everything was negative -- the Huskies were shooting 27 percent -- when Napier made his three, and Ryan Boatright's long pass to Phil Nolan ended in a layup to cut Michigan State's lead to 32-28. Momentum changed. Two UConn stops, then Napier got himself to the line and cut it to 32-30 with 13:20 to go, and suddenly the game was playing at the Huskies' pace again. Two more from Napier at the line, and the Huskies tied it. MSU went 5:50 without scoring, and the Huskies regained the lead on Daniels' three-point play with 11:46 to go.

"It started with ball pressure," Ollie said.

UConn matched MSU (29-9) basket for basket, push for shove from there on.

"We're physical, too," Ollie said. "Don't get it mixed up -- we're predators out there. We used our toughness mentally."

Napier came out briefly as trainer James Doran tended to a bloody nose, then returned and continued to attack the basket. Fouled as he attempted a three, he made all three at the line to seal the game with 30 seconds left.

"His will to win, you could just see it," Harris, a sophomore, said of Napier. "He wasn't going to let his team lose."

Napier also had six assists. Daniels had 12 points and eight rebounds, Boatright had 11 points. The Huskies shot just 34 percent -- normally reliable Niels Giffey couldn't buy one on this day -- but did it with defense and grit, and by going 21-for-22 at the line, 41-for-44 in the two victories at the Garden.

When it was over, the Huskies lingered on the floor, with former UConn stars like Rip Hamilton, Cliff Robinson and Khalid El-Amin and former coach Calhoun joining in the celebration. The majority -- the overwhelming majority -- of fans were Huskies faithful.

"We feel the intensity from our crowd," Napier said. "We feel the intensity just from the overwhelming sensation when you first walk in here. It's a special feeling to continue to create our history and win games here."

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