MSU Falls To UConn In Armed Forces Classic 66-62
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, GERMANY (AP) – Shabazz Napier scored 25 points and Connecticut upset No. 14 Michigan State 66-62 Friday night in the Armed Forces Classic, Kevin Ollie’s first game as the Huskies’ head coach.
UConn led most of the way and by as many as 16 points in the first half of the game, which was played in a hangar at the United States’ Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
Keith Appling scored 17 points and Branden Dawson had 15 points and seven rebounds for Michigan State.
Gary Harris scored to pull the Spartans to 62-60, but Denzel Valentine and Appling each missed a shot in the last minute that would have tied the game, forcing Michigan State to foul.
Napier hit four free throws in the final 13 seconds to seal the win.
Ryan Boatright had 13 points, despite rolling his ankle in the second half, and DeAndre Daniels added 12 for the Huskies.
The 14th-ranked Spartans hit just one of their first eight shots, while Connecticut made nine of its first 10, and raced out to a 20-6 lead on a 3-pointer from Napier.
A steal by Napier and a lob to Ryan Boatright made it 32-18 Huskies, who stretched that to 16. The Spartans closed the half on a 10-2 run, but trailed 40-33 at intermission.
Boatright rolled his left ankle less that 3 minutes into the second half and was hobbled the rest of the game.
The Huskies, who shot 46 percent while holding the Spartans to 40 percent, won despite being outrebounded 34-25.
Ollie took over the program after Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun retired in September. He has been given only a one-year contract with a team that returns just five players who saw significant playing time last season.
The Huskies, who finished last season a disappointing 20-14 a year after winning the program’s third national title, are picked to finish ninth in the Big East this season and are academically ineligible for the Big East and NCAA tournaments.
This is the first season that someone other than Jim Calhoun has been the head coach since Dom Perno coached his final game in 1986.
Three UConn players hail from Germany. Neils Giffey scored three points and Enosch Wolf had two. Leon Tolksdorf did not play.
Michigan State lost its second consecutive opener after winning 33 of its previous 34. The Spartans lost last year to North Carolina in another military tribute game, the Carrier Classic.
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