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Men's basketball: UConn knocks off Iowa State

USA TODAY Sports Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier drives to the basket against Iowa State during the second half in their East Regional semifinal game in the NCAA tournament Friday at Madison Square Garden in New York.

NEW YORK — The Connecticut Huskies used clutch free throw shooting down the stretch, turning back the Iowa State Cyclones 81-76 in the semifinals of the NCAA East Regional on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Huskies (29-8), the seventh seed, were 11 of 12 from the line in the final 47 seconds of the game. They finished 20 of 22.

Iowa State (28-8), the third seed, closed to six points at 77-71 with 14 seconds to play before UConn forward DeAndre Daniels buried four straight shots from the stripe for an 81-73 cushion.

Daniels led the Huskies with 27 points and 10 rebounds. UConn faces the winner of Virginia-Michigan State for a spot in the Final Four.

UConn guard Shabazz Napier added 19 points and guard Ryan Boatwright chipped in with 16 points.

Iowa State, which entered the game with the country’s fifth highest-scoring offense at 83.2 points per game, was held to one of its lowest outputs of the season.

Junior forward Dustin Hogue scored a career-high 34 points for Iowa State. Cyclones forward Melvin Ejim, the Big 12 Player of the Year, was in foul trouble and struggled with his shot. Ejim finished with just seven points, well below his 18.1 average.

Guard DeAndre Kane, shadowed by Napier for most of the game, scored 16 points for the Cyclones.

The Huskies are 35-8 in their last 12 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, dating to their 6-0 run to the national championship in 1999. Included in that span are NCAA titles in 1999, 2004 and 2011.

Iowa State got to within five points at 70-65 on a layup from guard Naz Long with 1:38 to play before guard Terrence Samuel hit two free throws with 36 seconds left and Napier made two from the line with 47 seconds left for a 74-67 Huskies lead.

Iowa State cut the UConn lead to 10 points several times in the final six minutes of the game but could not put together more than four-point run.

The Huskies relied on their long-range shooting to grab a 36-26 halftime lead. They were 7 of 12 (58.3 percent) from beyond the arc.

Napier and Boatwright combined for 22 points.

Hogue led the Cyclones with 10 points.

Daniels ended a 3:35 drought by the Huskies, scoring seven straight points to move ahead UConn 32-22 with 2:54 left in the first half.

Napier hit his first four 3-pointers of the game, helping the Huskies to a 22-14 advantage with 9:50 left in the opening half.

Iowa State’s only lead in the first half was 3-2 on a 3-pointer from Kane 1:11 into the game.

Notes: The only prior meeting between UConn and Iowa State was in the second round of the 2012 NCAA South Regional when the Cyclones eliminated the Huskies 77-64. ... Iowa State was without F Georges Niang, who suffered a broken foot in the second round of the tournament against North Carolina Central. ... UConn coach Kevin Ollie and Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg were teammates with the Chicago Bulls during the 2001-02 season. Their paths crossed again when Hoiberg was an assistant general manager with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2008-09 and Ollie played point guard there. ... UConn G Shabazz Napier was a freshman on the Huskies' 2011 national championship team. Napier was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year this season. ... Iowa State ranked fifth in the nation in scoring (83.2 ppg).