UConn leads Kentucky 35-31 at halftime
Arlington, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - A 15-point Connecticut lead was whittled to four points by a 16-5 Kentucky run to end the first half of Monday's NCAA title game.
Shabazz Napier scored 15 points, Ryan Boatright scored all eight of his points in the first eight minutes and the Huskies had a 35-31 lead over the Wildcats at the break.
James Young had 10 points to lead Kentucky. He and Andrew Harrison knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to ignite the Wildcats' run after UConn went up 30-15 with six minutes left in the half.
Kentucky, Midwest Region's No. 8 seed, is chasing its ninth national title and second in three years.
UConn, the No. 7 seed from the East Region, is seeking its second championship in four years and fourth overall -- all in the last 16 years.
The teams, with 18 losses between them, have combined to produce the lowest- seeded NCAA Tournament final ever.
But there were plenty of sparks in the first half at AT&T Stadium.
DeAndre Daniels, the junior Huskies forward who has emerged as an offensive star in the tournament, had an early highlight when he drove the baseline with his left hand and dunked with his right.
At the other end, UConn's rigid defense forced three Kentucky turnovers in the first five minutes. Napier knocked down a 3-pointer after the third one and Boatright spun around a defender for a reverse layup to give the Huskies a 17-8 advantage less than seven minutes into the game.
The UConn lead reached 12 on Napier's 3 from the high right side with 8 1/2 minutes left in the half and ballooned to 15 on Niels Giffey's free throws several minutes later.
After Aaron Harrison's steal and dunk pulled Kentucky within 10, Napier hit his third 3-pointer from several feet behind the arc.
But Young and Harrison followed with their 3s, cutting the deficit to seven points with three minutes remaining before the break.
Julius Randle capped Kentucky's 16-5 run with a putback in the final seconds. Kentucky's leading scorer had six points in the half.
The Wildcats reached the championship game after beating Kansas State, No. 1 seed and previously unbeaten Wichita State, Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin -- the last two on 3-pointers in the final seconds by Aaron Harrison.
The Huskies ended No. 1 overall seed Florida's 30-game winning streak in the Final Four on Saturday night and also beat Saint Joseph's, Villanova, Iowa State and Michigan State.
04/07 22:21:15 ET