The highly anticipated matchup of the Connecticut Huskies and Kentucky Wildcats in the Round of 32 won't come to fruition. The No.8-seeded Iowa St. Cyclones, behind the play of Royce White, ended UConn's hope for a repeat national championship early this year, winning 77-64. It's the first time a reigning national champion has lost in its first game in the NCAA Tournament since UCLA fell to Princeton in 1996.
White was spectacular against UConn's talented frontline, constantly guarded by either Andre Drummond, Roscoe Smith or Alex Oriakhi, and performing anyway. The forward, who led his team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks during the regular season, had 15 points, 11 rebounds and did a lot of his team's ball handling down the stretch. Chris Allen also had a herculean effort for the Cyclones, scoring 20 points on a mix of inside and outside shooting.
For all the talent UConn had, for the championship experience of Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier, Drummond and Co. in the frontcourt couldn't hold up their end of the bargain, even with Jim Calhoun back on the bench. Drummond, who many expect to be the No. 2 pick in June's NBA draft, scored just two points and had just three rebounds. Napier and Lamb were solid, combining for 41 points, but Napier got to the basket at will down the stretch and couldn't convert many of his scoring chances. Lamb was nearly invisible for stretches.
Seth Davis posed this question on Twitter in the game's dwindling moments: with his persistent back issues and a talent vacuum next year, could this have been the last game Calhoun coached? Let's hope not, because this would be his long, celebrated tenure's last moment.
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