And front and center, Ryan Boatright couldn't keep his hands off the award. Like his approach on the court throughout the NCAA Tournament, Boatright was wasn't shy.
He played with an injured ankle in the second half, yet he was a key contributor.
"Man, heart man," Boatright said. "I came too far to lose right now. I worked too hard in all my life to be in this position, and I wasn't going to let an ankle sprain stop me."
Boatright? He was the straw that mixed the drink, a game-changer on defense, a fearless player on offense.
As the Huskies withstood a run by Kentucky in the second half, Boatright may well have connected on the biggest shot of the night. The Wildcats were charging with five minutes remaining and a Julius Randle free throw made it 54-50.
The large contingent of Kentucky fans was rocking and the momentum seemed to be shifted to John Calipari's team. But with 4:12 left, Boatright calmly sank a jump shot to boost the lead to six points.
That gave him 14 points, and they were his two biggest points of the night.
In the first half, Boatright scored eight of UConn's first 19 points. He made a reverse layup that was one of the most memorial baskets of the night, a reminder of just how talented he is offensive.
This is, after all, a player who averaged more than 30 points per game in high school. But he remained in Napier's shadow and became a defensive specialist.
After the game, Calipari talked about Boatright's aggressive defense and the effect it had on his young guards. Aaron Harrison, who won three consecutive games with late jump shots, was limited to seven points.
What's next for Boatright, a junior? He has said he will remain at UConn, but he could opt for the NBA.
He said during the season that he and his Daniels came in together and would go out with a blaze of glory. Whether they decide to leave together is not yet known, but they each opened the eyes of NBA scouts this spring.
"It took an unbelievable team," Boatright said. "It took a special team. These guys right here, man, I love them to death."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun