‘It’s our time down here’

UConn's Shabazz Napier reacts after making a basket during the second half. At right is West Virginia's Darryl Bryant. Connecticut beat West Virginia in overtime 71-67. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

By Neill Ostrout

Journal Inquirer

NEW YORK — They’re at it again.

They’re shunning all comparisons but the players and coaches on University of Connecticut basketball team are doing very much the same thing this week at the Big East tournament they did in last year’s event.

“Is it magical? No, it’s just us,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said after his Huskies overcame a nine-point deficit in the final four minutes and beat West Virginia 71-67 in overtime Wednesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

In a matchup of the last two champions of this event — UConn last season and the Mountaineers in 2010 — the Huskies prevailed and will take on top-seeded Syracuse Thursday at noon in the quarterfinals

Shabazz Napier 22 of his 26 points after halftime in Wednesday’s second round, almost single-handedly rallying the Huskies late in regulation, and Jeremy Lamb added 22 including the knock-out punch: a 3-pointer with 1:04 left in overtime that broke a tie and lifted UConn to victory.

The Huskies (20-12) may have entered this tournament on the bubble for the NCAA tourney but are now on something of a serious role. They’ve won three straight games for the first time this calendar year

“Shabazz was saying ‘We’re not going to lose this game! We’re not going to lose this game!’ And guys bought into that,” UConn forward Alex Oriakhi said. “I’m not going to lie. I looked up and said ‘It’s getting ugly.’ But we all made a promise to each other that we were going to fight to the end. Win, lose or draw we were going down swinging

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About Neill

Neill Ostrout covers the UConn men's basketball team for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester. He has been a member of the "Horde" for more than 16 years.
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