Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie wasn't overly impressed with his team's offensive execution in the opener of the 2K Sports Champions Classic, but it held onto the ball enough to earn a hard-fought victory.
That may have Ollie and the rest of the coaching staff a little winded when the Huskies return home.No. 18 UConn seeks a more complete performance as it faces unbeaten Indiana in the tournament's championship game Friday night at Madison Square Garden.The Huskies (5-0) survived a close call in Thursday's semifinals, getting two late free throws and a last-second blocked shot from 6-foot guard Ryan Boatwright to preserve a 72-70 victory over Boston College."Coming down to the last possession like that, we gutted out a win," Ollie said.UConn shot 39.3 percent from the field, but it committed only three turnovers -- its fewest since also committing three in a loss to Notre Dame on March 5, 2011."I tell our guys if we are under 10 turnovers, the coaches have to run sprints," Ollie said with a smile. "I guess we owe them seven when we get back."DeAndre Daniels scored a game-high 23 points and Shabazz Napier added a season-high 20, but the team recorded just seven assists on 22 baskets."We weren't knocking down our shots," Napier said. "We weren't able to knock down the easy shots and it made it difficult for us to break out."Boatwright had a solid all-around game, doubling his career total with two blocks while adding nine points, five rebounds and four assists."He did a lot of things for us tonight," Ollie said. "He had a great floor game. I know he wanted to score a little more, but the game is going to dictate that and when that does you have to play for your teammates. He can explode at any time and I know he'll be ready for tomorrow."Boatwright will have some stiff competition if he's matched up against guard Yogi Ferrell, who scored 20 points to help Indiana defeat Washington 102-84 in Thursday's other semifinal.Troy Williams finished with 22 points and eight boards, and fellow freshman Noah Vonleh added 18 points and nine rebounds for the Hoosiers (5-0), who surpassed 100 points for the third time. They are averaging 94.0 on the season."I was a little surprised at how poised (the freshmen) were in our first road game in one of the most hectic places in the world," said senior Will Sheehy, who had 16 points and five assists. "I was really proud of them."Indiana held a 50-29 advantage on the boards against the Huskies, including 20 offensive rebounds. Its plus-19.2 average rebounding margin ranks second in the country behind Utah."We always want to establish attacking the rim," said Ferrell, who is averaging a team-best 19.6 points as the Hoosiers' only returning starter from last year's team that won the Big Ten regular-season championship and advanced to the regional semifinals in the NCAA tournament.Coach Tom Crean hopes his squad can have another impressive performance on little rest against UConn."The bottom line will not be about the physical part of it, but to get better mentally in a short time," Crean said. "They've really got to talk basketball to get ready."These teams haven't met since UConn's 68-63 win Jan. 26, 2008.