DeAndre Daniels Shines as UConn Advances to Elite Eight | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Sunday / February 5.
  • DeAndre Daniels Shines as UConn Advances to Elite Eight

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    DeAndre DanielsBy JOSH NEWMAN

    Special to ZAGSBLOG

    NEW YORK – Early in the second half of an East Regional semifinal between Connecticut and Iowa St. on Friday evening. Huskies junior forward DeAndre Daniels hit a mid-range jump shot. Forty-one seconds later, he hit another and 60 seconds after that, he converted on a driving layup.

    At that point, it was clear what the Huskies’ offensive game plan was going to entail. Keep feeding the Los Angeles native and ride him to the Elite Eight.

    That strategy proved effective as Daniels finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds to lead a balanced attack as UConn held on late to defeat the Cyclones, 81-76, in front of a raucous pro-UConn crowd at Madison Square Garden.

    Daniels, who registered his biggest scoring output since putting a career-high 31 on Temple back on Jan. 21, had 19 of his 27 points in the second half, shot an efficient 10-for-15 from the field and added two blocks as UConn is through to its 11th Elite Eight and third in the last six seasons.

    “I just wanted to stay aggressive and just start off the second half staying aggressive,” Daniels said. “My teammates were talking to me and it would never have been possible if it wasn’t for my teammates looking for me, and the coaching staff getting me the ball in the right positions.  I was able to knock down my shots tonight. And this postseason, just giving it my all, just for my teammates and UConn and UConn Nation.”

    Daniels didn’t stop after that initial 6-point burst. Another mid-range jumper a short time later extended the Huskies to a 14-point lead. On their next offensive possession, senior point guard Shabazz Napier rushed his own rebound up the floor. After surveying his options, he hit a trailing Daniels in stride for a transition 3-pointer, UConn’s biggest lead of the night at 49-32 and an Iowa St. timeout with 14:17 to play.

    Napier opened the game by going 4-for-4 from 3-point range and junior point guard Ryan Boatright was also instrumental is pacing UConn to a 10-point halftime lead, but it was Daniels who did the second-half damage, a fact not lost on Cyclones head coach Fred Hoiberg.

    “He was unbelievable tonight.,” Hoiberg said. “Shabazz and Boatright were really good early knocking down shots for them, and then Daniels went through that stretch in the second half where they really went to him.  He was hitting mid‑range shots over extended hands, and got free for a couple 3’s where I didn’t think we went out there and got a hand up, even though we were in the area.”

    Nights like Friday have been a long time coming for Daniels, who arrived in Storrs in the fall of 2011 with a considerable amount of hype.

    The No. 10 overall player and the No. 3 small forward in the Class of 2011 according to Rivals, Daniels’ recruitment out of IMG Academy was shrouded in mystery. Finally, after then-UConn head coach Jim Calhoun got involved late, Daniels committed to the Huskies June 2011, spurning Kansas, Texas, Florida and Duke in the process.

    His career to this point has had its ups and downs, but Daniels has found consistency as a junior, averaging 12.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 44.7 percent shooting from 3-point range in 34 games entering Friday night. His 27 points were his sixth game of at least 20 this season and his seventh straight in double-figures.

    Daniels is currently slotted at No. 28 overall on DraftExpress’ 2015 NBA Mock Draft, but that will surely improve with more overall efforts like he had against Iowa St.

    “He’s an inside‑outside threat, and we try to do a nice job manipulating the defense, getting him in the sweet spots, and that’s what I like to do on our offense.,” Ollie said. “I got great two point guards that find him in the sweet spot, and throw and deliver the ball on time and on target and he did a great job tonight staying with it.  He could have easily hung his head and he stayed with it and he pushed us over the top in the second half.”

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