GEICO SportsNite has coverage of UConn's 65-64 win

STORRS – The ball was tipped out to Shabazz Napier. How? Did DeAndre Daniels tip it on purpose? Was it a lucky bounce?

Irrelevant, really. The UConn men were down by one, Napier got his hands on the ball one last time. And then time seemed to stop.

"When stuff like that happens," Napier said, "and it comes down to last seconds, the game seems much slower than it is. As soon I grabbed the ball and it was point-nine seconds to go, and it just felt so slow. Point nine. … Point eight. … I knew I had to shoot the ball as quick as I can, but at the same time, shoot regular."

Napier's body language bore that out. It was as if he was shooting in an empty gym. From the foul line he shot, and it went in as the buzzer sounded to give the Huskies a 65-64 victory over Florida before 10,167 at Gampel Pavilion.

And then it was back to real time. Bedlam was unleashed and Napier, fearing he might get hurt, ran toward the locker room.

"I'm kind of claustrophobic with that," he said. "I don't like guys on top of me. I was try to run to the locker room and on my way there I met a couple of great students. Times like that, you just go off your instinct."

It was one of those nights, and one of those moments that will now slow down for everyone involved, the kind of moment that brought Napier to UConn, and has kept him here four years, the kind of moment this year's Huskies are making their signature.

"I'm happy but I'm a little exhausted," coach Kevin Ollie said, his tie loosened and his top button un-buttoned. "Once again, we showed our resolve. We didn't get rebounds down the stretch, we didn't do a lot of things. But at the end of the day it's about our heart. We're not the biggest team in America, but man, I wouldn't trade our heart for anybody."

The Huskies (8-0), ranked 12th in the AP, seemed to have more than they could handle with the Gators (6-2), ranked 15th. Florida's front court out-muscled UConn much of the night, and they led by as much as eight in the first half, and seven with 12:03 to play. Then Ollie called a time out, drew up a play that resulted in Niels Giffey's three-pointer, one of 11 the Huskies made, and one last surge began. Napier, who scored 26 points, hit a three with 10:17 left to put UConn ahead by three. The lead reached five before Florida pushed back again.

With UConn's most experienced big men, Phil Nolan and Tyler Olander, both in foul trouble, the Gators began feeding Patric Young, 6-foot-9 and 240, one of the players Ollie referred to as having "muscles on top of muscles." Young scored seven points on three possessions, and Florida led by one with under a minute to play.

Napier and Lasan Kromah missed three-point shots, but the Huskies, out-rebounded 34 to 26, did get those two on offense. Napier tried again and hit, and he was fouled by Dorian Finney-Smith.

"It was not a foul," Florida coach Billy Donovan said.

Napier twisted his ankle on the play, but was able to continue. He completed the four-point play, but UConn left Michael Frazier II open at the other end and he put Florida back on front with 17.7 seconds to play.

Florida trapped Napier, and he threw up a wild shot and missed. The ball kicked around, and Daniels tried to grab it, but instead it bounced out to Napier at the free-throw line.

"And then it kind of reminded me of Richard Hamilton," Ollie said, referring to one of the famous shots in Huskies history.

"I almost got it," Daniels said. "I don't know if I touched it or not, but it bounced out to Shabazz and he hit that amazing shot."

"The guy who won the game for them was DeAndre Daniels," Donovan said. "That was an unbelievable tip-out off to keep the ball alive. We needed to keep a guy there [on Napier] and we didn't. … It was kind of a fluke play."

Said Napier: "It was so chaotic, I felt if I got another chance, I'm going to make it. ... I'm in the right spot at the right time."

Napier hit it, the latest in the cluster of game-winners he has hit, and UConn's long history of winning non-conference games survived the test of an SEC opponent, a perennial title contender. That's 42 in a row at Gampel.

"Shabazz was phenomenal," Ollie said, "whenever we need a big shot, he makes that. Whenever we need a big play, he makes that."

Napier got UConn started with a deep three-pointer, and through the early minutes of the game the Huskies held their own on the boards and maintained a slim lead. The Gators took advantage of different UConn lineups, dominated inside and put together a 14-2 run. Casey Prather, Florida's top scorer, hit a jumper to give the Gators a 24-16 lead with 5:49 left in the half.

The Huskies responded, with Daniels and Napier hitting open threes to ignite an 11-0 run. Ryan Boatright hit a three to put the Huskies ahead, and they eventually extended it to 30-25. But two turnovers in the final minutes helped Florida surge back, and they closed to within one, 30-29, on Scottie Wilbekin's jumper, the last shot of the half. The score was tied seven times, the lead changed 14 times, the Gampel crowd – which rarely gets a non-conference game of this magnitude this early – was up to the challenge.

"The fans were unbelievable today, it was insane," Giffey said. "You couldn't hear play calling. They were just amazing."

Daniels had 14 points and seven rebounds. Casey Prather scored 19, Young 17 for Florida.

It was UConn's fourth victory over a power-conference opponent and all, against Maryland, Boston College, Indiana and Florida, have come by one or two points. When March arrives, the Huskies will be nothing if not battle-tested – and battle proven.

"I'm not going to put limitations on this team," Ollie said. "It's past possible with these guys. It's not impossible, it's past possible. "