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Napier leads UConn past Kentucky in NCAA men's basketball title game

UConn led wire-to-wire and held off a late Kentucky run to win the NCAA men's basketball national championship 60-54. (Source: MGN) UConn led wire-to-wire and held off a late Kentucky run to win the NCAA men's basketball national championship 60-54. (Source: MGN)
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ARLINGTON, TX (RNN) - Connecticut led buzzer-to-buzzer and staved off a late comeback bid by Kentucky to win the NCAA national championship game 60-54.

"It's a great feeling," UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said after the game. "It's unbelievable because those guys, my players, stayed with the program. I'm the first one to deflect all of the attention – those players that were up here deserve all of the attention, because if it weren't for them, this program wouldn't be here."

Shabazz Napier scored 22 and was named MVP for the Huskies, who won their fourth national title and second in three years.

"We didn't come out here to get any revenge or anything like that, we came to play," Napier said during the post-game press conference. "We we just understood we could get to the Promised Land."

Kentucky came from an early 15-point deficit to trail 35-31 at the half, and cut the lead to 1 point early in the second half but could never take the lead.

The Huskies, the first seventh-seeded team to win the tournament, surged to a 9-point second period lead before Kentucky rallied to cut the lead to 48-47 with 7:29 left. 

But the Wildcats went cold from the field down the stretch and struggled at the line the whole game. They missed six second-half free throws and only made 13-of-24 for the game.

Connecticut made all 10 of its free throws.

"They were not going to let us take this game from them," UK coach John Calipari said of the UConn effort. "We missed some shots we needed to make and some free throws. We played a really good team that was well coached."

Napier had 15 first-half points and keyed the win in the second half. He hit a 3-pointer and dished a pair of assists in the final seven minutes to help UConn cling to the lead.

Ryan Boatwright had 14 for the Huskies and Niels Griffey added 10.

Kentucky's James Young had 20 points and Julius Randle added 10.

UConn outrebounded the bigger Wildcats 34-33 and controlled the boards in the final minutes.

Kentucky, which entered the tournament seeded eighth, finished the year 29-11. UConn is 32-8.

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