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Post-game breakdown, video: Cincinnati

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: theday.com

Published March 01. 2014 7:00PM   Updated March 01. 2014 10:19PM

UConn scored a big resume-building win by beating No. 11 Cincinnati, 51-45, Saturday at the XL Center in Hartford.

"It was a great statement victory for us," coach Kevin Ollie said.

The Huskies improved to 4-2 against ranked teams. They have regular season games remaining against Rutgers Wednesday and atLouisville on Saturday.

At 23-6 overall, they've already done enough to earn an NCAA tournament bid. Now it's a matter of improving their seeding position.

Here's a post-game breakdown and video:

-- Check out the attached video of Ollie's post-game press conference. His voice is still hoarse from Wednesday's win at South Florida.

-- In the battle between two American Athletic Conference player-of-the-year candidates, UConn senior Shabazz Napier out-played Sean Kilpatrick.

Napier had a game-high 18 points and a team-best 11 rebounds. He also had two assists, two turnovers and two steals in 36 minutes.

Kilpatrick had 16 points on 4-for-16 from the field and added five rebounds and three assists. But he also had seven ofCincinnati's 20 turnovers.

Lasan Kromah, Niels Giffey and Terrence Samuel all took turns guarding Kilpatrick, who came in leading the AAC in scoring at 20.5 points per game.

"We were trying to limit his touches on the ball and make it uncomfortable for him," Kromah said.

-- The Huskies made a season-low 15 field goals and shot 31.3 percent. The Bearcats hit just 27.1 percent and had 13 field goals.

UConn also was out-rebounded, 44-30.

"We've got to make more shots," Ollie said. "We've got to rebound better, but at the end of the day we got a win."

-- Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin was in no mood to talk about UConn's stingy defense. He criticized his team's play.

"Cincinnati played terrible," Cronin said. "Kevin is a great coach. UConn's got a good team, but Cincinnati played terrible. Zero excuses in the world to turn the ball over 20 times against a team that doesn't press."

-- Ollie's faith in freshman Terrence Samuel is growing. Samuel played important minutes for the second straight game.

Samuel exhibited poise during crucial stretches, joining Napier and Boatright in a three-guard set. He had three points, one steal, one assist and no turnovers in 16 minutes.

"Last year I was home watching games like this on TV," Samuel said. "It feels great to be a part of it, especially to get the `W' and play quality minutes."

-- Junior Ryan Boatright didn't attempt a free throw for the first time this season. He had seven points.

-- For the first time this season, junior DeAndre Daniels has gone three straight games without scoring in double figures. He had just four points and played a season-low 15 minutes, only four in the second half. 

-- Growing increasingly upset with the officiating, Cronin boiled over in the second half. He screamed at the officials and came close to earning a technical foul.

At one point, official Ted Valentine stood face-to-face jawing with Cronin, who had to be restrained one of his players.

"I don't appreciate people getting in my face," Cronin said. "Where I come from, you don't jump in someone's face. He apologized. He thought I was coming at him. I wasn't. I've got nothing but respect for Ted."

Valentine, who has a history of thrusting himself into the spotlight during games, had no business challenging Cronin.

He once ejected UConn coach Jim Calhoun from a Big East game.

-- UConn had its lowest point total in a victory since beating Villanova, 46-40, in February 2002.

-- The Huskies improved to 3-4 against the top four teams in the AAC.

-- It was a day of upsets in the AAC, as No. 21 Memphis knocked off No. 7 Louisville, 72-66.

Louisville and Cincinnati are tied for first place at 13-3. SMU is second at 12-4 while UConn and Memphisare tied for fourth at 11-5.

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