DALLAS - One of the lingering questions all week at the Final Four was whether Shabazz Napier was good enough to carry Connecticut past top-seeded Florida.
That premise ignored the emergence of Huskies forward DeAndre Daniels.
The junior from Los Angeles scored 20 points and played a major role in breaking Florida’s gimmick defense in the second half as Connecticut advanced to Monday night’s national championship game with a 63-53 win over the Gators at AT&T Stadium on Saturday.
Florida raced out to a 16-4 lead, but Connecticut rallied with an 11-0 run and took control.
The Huskies seized the lead late in the first half and extended it after the break with Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin receiving treatment for a leg injury.
The Gators trimmed a 10-point deficit to just three midway through the second half using a 1-3-1 zone defense, but Connecticut called timeout and made an adjustment.
The Huskies threw lobs to Daniels on the weak side of the zone on several occasions for easy baskets and got the Gators out of the defense.
Connecticut was able to score seemingly each time Florida started to make a run in the second half and the Gators, playing with a clearly limited Wilbekin, never truly made it a game.
Daniels had 10 rebounds. Napier had 12 points on just six shots and added six assists.
Ryan Boatright added 13 points and six rebounds.
But it was the Huskies defense that won the game.
Connecticut held Florida to 19 of 49 shooting, including just 1-for-10 from 3-point range.
The Gators did not score a fast-break point.
Patric Young scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half and Casey Prather added 15 points for Florida.
They had very little help, however.
Only one other Gator, Kasey Hill (7), had more than four points.
Wilbekin finished a very disappointing game 2 of 9 from the field with just four points.
He also turned the ball over three times.
Connecticut now waits on the nightcap between Kentucky and Wisconsin to find out who they will play on Monday night.