Florida center Patric Young shoots against Connecticut during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Updated: April 5, 2014 7:38PM
ARLINGTON, Texas — For 30 games, no one was good enough to beat Florida once.
Surprising No. 7 seed Connecticut, on the other hand, has done it twice in two tries this season.
Go figure, eh? The Huskies, who beat the Gators by a single point in Storrs, Conn., in early December, this time took them down 63-53 in a national semifinal.
This time, unlike in the first game, the Gators were at full strength, too. If there was some luck involved in Round 1, there’s no way to look at Round 2 other than as a confirmation of the Huskies as one of the best teams in the country.
And yet the game began in such a manner that the Huskies looked as though they didn’t belong here at all.
When Gators guard Scottie Wilbekin hit a jumper for a 16-4 lead a little more than halfway through the first half, this was beginning to call to mind one of the uglier games in Final Four history — UConn’s 53-41 victory over Butler in the 2011 title contest. Only in this case, the Huskies appeared to be playing the role of Butler.
Everything turned around, though, during an 11-0 UConn spurt that gave the Huskies life while seeming to snuff out every bit of the Gators’ mojo. By halftime, it was 25-22 in favor of the Huskies. In the second half, they never looked back.
Star point guard Shabazz Napier was blanketed by Wilbekin early, but he wound up controlling the flow with a big hand from forward DeAndre Daniels, who scored 20.
UConn (31-8) is now 10-4 this season against teams ranked in the top 25. If their previous body of work didn’t impress you, perhaps that will.
Florida (36-3) was working on what had potential to go down as one of the best seasons for a team in decades. The Gators might’ve finished with 32 straight Ws and a 4-0 record against Kentucky. Or they might’ve finished with 32 straight Ws and payback victories over the two teams (including Wisconsin) to beat them this season.
Instead, they’re simply done. Over and out.
No more No. 1 overall team in this tournament. No more No. 1 seed at all in this tourney.
Go figure, eh?