|Brad Stevens got the pace, but not the production|
Both teams were in the top 26 in keeping care of the ball and the bottom 100 in forcing turnovers on defenses. A prodigal approach to ball security or a ball-hawking defense usually leads to live-ball turnovers and quick baskets on the other end. With both teams patient on defense as well as offense, opportunities for such easy points were few and far between.
|A rare clean look|
UConn was able to get the ball inside to Oriakhi (11-11-0 on 5-6/0-0/1-1) or penetrate with their guards against a Butler defense whose strength was shutting down the three-point game. The Huskies' defensive calling card all year had been defending the paint; they were 19th in the nation in percentage of two-point shots blocked and 7th in the nation in 2P% defense. They held Butler's bigs (Howard, Smith, Marshall, and Butcher) to 12 points 3-25 shooting. Oriakhi, Smith, and Okwandu combined to block 9 shots and were integral in Butler's 1-14 performance on layups on the night. By the time Butler picked up their first points in the paint with 6:21 remaining in the game the game was alerady well away from them.
With it obvious that Butler couldn't get anything going on offense, Stevens put in a little zone trap to try to force UConn into some turnovers that could lead to easy buckets for Butler. Instead, UConn's guards held their nerve and picked apart the zone, stretching a five point lead into double digits and effectively ending the game. Though it backfired on him in a big way, I think Stevens made the right decision. When your team is on the way to shooting .188/.273/.571, you have to try something to get them uncontested layups with their strong hands. If there were a strategy that offered that and didn't have any risk involved, everyone would shoot 100% from the floor.
|Napier's ability to penetrate effectually sealed the game|