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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Connecticut used a late push to end its early road woes in the American Athletic Conference — and earned a win over a ranked team, too.
DeAndre Daniels had 23 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, Shabazz Napier added 17 points and Connecticut finished strong to beat No. 17 Memphis 83-73 Thursday night.
"This was the first one we needed to get," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. "We got our first road kill in the American Conference."
The Huskies (14-3, 2-2 American Athletic Conference), who previously lost conference games at Houston and SMU, outscored Memphis 8-2 in the final minute to secure their third straight win.
"That was definitely a big one," Napier said. "We hit that little slump where we were not really second-guessing who we were, but trying to figure out how good we really are. Everybody came to play (against Memphis). ... That second half we proved to ourselves that we are a good team."
Daniels was 9 of 15 from the field, including 4 for 5 from outside the arc, and UConn shot 57 percent — 61 percent after halftime. Lasan Kromah finished with 13 points, making all five attempts. Daniels scored 18 points in the second half.
"I felt like when I was in there in the first half, I wasn't as aggressive as I was in the second half," Daniels said. "On the pick-and-pops, I felt like I was open a lot, and I hesitated and I didn't shoot the ball."
The game was close most of the way, with three ties and 13 lead changes. The 10-point margin at the end was the biggest advantage for either team.
"We slowed up the game a little bit to put it to our pace," Napier said of the stretch run. "There were a couple of times where I had the ball and I told the guys to just relax, we're going to get the right shot. I think that helped us out.
"It just shows how intelligent this group of players are."
It was a game of rallies and lead changes, and UConn had the final burst — led by Napier. He scored eight points in the final 5 minutes after the teams were tied at 62.
"They hit some tough shots," Memphis guard Geron Johnson said. "They were a more focused team, and they were better than us. We didn't hit those shots down the stretch in the game. We have to focus more like they did."
Both teams went on runs in the first half before the Tigers carried a 40-39 lead into the break, despite Ryan Boatright's 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the half.
While no Connecticut players were in double figures, the Huskies were shooting at a 54 percent clip.
Dixon already had 12 points for the Tigers, who managed just 42 percent shooting but were 5 of 8 from 3-point range, with Dixon at 2 of 3.
The Huskies opened the second half by outscoring Memphis 10-2, including eight points by Daniels. UConn was ahead 49-42 when coach Josh Pastner called a timeout to see if he could get his team back on track.
When the Tigers came out with consecutive 3s by Johnson and Chris Crawford, Ollie called a timeout of his own.
The teams stayed close from there until the Huskies put together the final rally.
"I feel like it was a good situation for us to go in and play at their home and get our first real road kill in the conference," Napier said.