UConn Beats Tulsa, 47-42, to Advance to AAC Finals - NBC Connecticut
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UConn Beats Tulsa, 47-42, to Advance to AAC Finals

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    UConn Beats Tulsa, 47-42, to Advance to AAC Finals
    Connecticut’s Ryan Boatright (11) drives past Tulsa’s Rashad Smith during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament in Hartford, Conn., on Saturday, March 14, 2015.

    Ryan Boatright scored 21 points and UConn overcame a 10-point second-half deficit Saturday to beat Tulsa 47-42 and advance to the finals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament.

    Rodney Purvis added 11 points and Daniel Hamilton pulled down 12 rebounds with five assists for the defending national champions (20-13), who will have a chance Sunday to secure a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.

    Shaquille Harrison had nine points and Rashad Ray finished with eight for Tulsa (22-10), which led 38-28 with 6:35 to play, but now finds itself on the tournament bubble.

    UConn used a 14-1 run over the last 3 ½ minutes to win the game. Boatright it a 3-pointer with 1:44 remaining to tie the game at 41 and Purvis gave the Huskies the lead for good with 46 seconds left on a jumper from the left baseline.

    Photo by Miquel Llop/NurPhoto via Getty Images

    Amida Brimah altered a shot by Shaquille Harrison with 14.5 seconds left and two Boatright free throws made it 45-42. Tulsa had a chance to tie, but Harrison missed an off-balance 3-pointer with 3 seconds left. Boatright put in in the final two points from the line.

    UConn which is playing on one of its two home courts, will face SMU, the regular-season conference champion, for the title on Sunday afternoon. The Mustangs beat Temple 69-56 earlier Saturday.

    The Golden Hurricanes led the game for more than 32 minutes and dominated the boards, outrebounding UConn 40-28.

    Tulsa stretched a five-point halftime lead to nine early in the second on a layup by Rashad Smith.

    But UConn began showing signs of life. Boatright cut the lead to 32-28 midway through the second half with his fourth 3-pointer.

    Tulsa scored the next six points and pushed the lead back to 10 on a layup by Rashad Smith, but did not make another field goal.

    Tulsa, the tournament's No. 2 seed had won 17 of its last 21 games, but is now firmly on the NCAA bubble.

    UConn has won six of its last eight games, but knew coming into the tournament that it likely needed to run the table to get an NCAA bid. The Huskies beat USF in the first round before knocking out third-seeded Cincinnati, 57-54 on Friday, on a last-second 3-pointer by Boatright.

    UConn has done this before. The Huskies had to make a run in 2011 to make it into the tournament. They won five games in five days and eventually the national championship.