The 18th-ranked Huskies moved to 5-0 after Friday's 59-58 win over Indiana in the finals of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Wounded Warrior Project in Madison Square Garden. Senior point guard Shabazz Napier led the way with 27 points and his hot start has him drawing comparisons to one of UConn's all-time great players: Kemba Walker, who led the Huskies to an improbable NCAA Title during the 2010-11 season.
Asked if he was happy to have his named mentioned in such company, Napier said, "Of course I do. That's my big brother. I try to emulate everything that he does."
Napier was a key freshman reserve on that championship team that won 11-straight postseason games to give Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun his third title.
"The fans love him and he loves the fans," coach Kevin Ollie said of Napier, via the Associated Press. "He gave the folks from Storrs a good trip back home."
Indiana coach Tom Crean agreed.
He is an incredible high level guard," he said. "That is a 12-, 13-year pro. I don't care about size. He creates tremendous separation."
Junior guard Ryan Boatright added 11 points while no one else on the roster scored in double-figures. Napier, who also led the team in rebounding with six, Boatright and DeAndre Daniels (7 points, 5 rebounds) all played 40 minutes each.
The Huskies led 30-24 at the half but a late Napier layup followed by a timely steals from Tyler Olander and Lasan Kromah -- in addition to some solid defending throughout -- helped UConn eke out the victory.
"It came down to execution, to making stops," Ollie said. "We trust each other. We hang our hat on defense. We got stops and that's what we did. That's never going to change. Never."
The Huskies play again Tuesday when they host Loyola (Md.) at the XL Center.