By PAT EATON-ROBB Associated Press
STORRS, Conn. (AP) _ Shabazz Napier scored 26 points in his final home game, leading 19th-ranked UConn to a 69-63 win over Rutgers on Wednesday night.
The senior guard made a career-high seven 3-pointers and hit eight of his 13 shots from the floor.
Niels Giffey added a career-high 16 points for the Huskies (24-6, 12-5 American Athletic Conference), who have won three in a row and seven of their last eight games.
Miles Mack scored 16 points for Rutgers (11-19, 5-11), which hasn’t beaten the Huskies in Storrs since 1972. Wally Judge added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Connecticut led by three points at halftime and held that lead at 56-53, before going on an 8-0 run. Two dunks by Philip Nolan made it 64-53 UConn and forced Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan to call a timeout.
The Scarlet Knights began chipping away at the lead, and cut the lead to 67-63 when Kadeem Jack stepped in front of a DeAndre Daniels pass and made a dunk at the other end with a minute left in the game.
But Daniels blocked a layup attempt by Judge on Rutgers next possession and hit a free throw on the other end. Phil Nolan then drew a charge on the baseline, and Napier sealed the game from the foul line as the fans chanted “M-V-P.”
UConn shot 47 percent from the field, while Rutgers hit on 44 percent, after making just one of their first nine shots, as the Huskies jumped out to an early 10-3 lead. Rutgers got hot after that, scoring the next eight points to take the lead.
The crowd got into the game after Amida Brimah, the Huskies 7-foot freshman, blocked a shot into the first row, and other off the backboard, forcing a shot-clock violation on Rutgers. That sparked an 8-2 run that gave UConn a 27-20 advantage.
The teams started trading 3-pointers, hitting 14 of them before intermission. Mack hit all three of his shots from behind the arc for Rutgers.
Napier made 4 of 6 and Giffey was 3 of 6, helping UConn to a 34-31 lead at halftime.
UConn finshed 12 of 25 from behind the arc. Rutgers was 8 of 18.
It was the final scheduled meeting between the two longtime conference rivals. Rutgers heads to the Big Ten next season. UConn improves to 37-14 in the series, and has won 21 of last 23, including an 82-71 win in New Jersey in January.
Rutgers has lost five of their last six.
Connecticut came into the game with a remote shot at a share of the American Conference championship. They were in fourth place in the conference, a game behind SMU, a team that has beaten the Huskies twice. The Huskies close the season Saturday at Louisville.
Rutgers, the seventh seed in the conference tournament, hosts Cincinnati on Saturday.
Napier needs just two points to catch Kemba Walker and move into seventh place on the school’s all-time scoring list.
His four assists Wednesday put just nine behind coach Kevin Ollie for third place on that list.
Rutgers, which beat Central Florida by two points on Saturday, has not won back-to-back games since beating Army in December and Temple on New Year’s Day.
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