Niels Giffey scores career-high 24 points, No. 21 UConn sweeps No. 19 Memphis with 72-53 rout

The Associated Press

Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier celebrates a score against Memphis during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Niels Giffey scored a career-high 24 points, hitting six 3-pointers, as No. 21 UConn finished off a season sweep of 19th-ranked Memphis by routing the Tigers 72-53 Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament.

The fourth-seeded Huskies (25-7) now have won four of their past five, and a team that was barred from the Big East tournament last year will be playing No. 13 Cincinnati, a 61-58 winner over UCF, in the semifinals Friday night.

Memphis (23-9) played as a visitor on its own court as the league's No. 5 seed where the Tigers had won 15 straight conference tournament games dating back to 2005 in Conference USA. But they struggled mightily in their fourth consecutive game against a ranked team.

DeAndre Daniels had 13 points for UConn. Shabazz Napier, the American's player of the year, and Terrence Samuel each finished with 11.

Memphis senior guard Joe Jackson, a two-time tournament MVP in Conference USA, and Chris Crawford both finished with 10 points.

The Huskies rebounded nicely from being routed themselves 81-48 last weekend at Louisville. But then UConn does have experience too when it comes to conference tournaments, having won the Big East a record seven times with the last in 2011 when the Huskies also won the national championship.

They caught Memphis repeatedly trying to double-team the ball only to find the open shooter over and over again. Giffey hurt Memphis so much that fans were yelling trying to alert the Tigers to stop leaving him open. Giffey finished 9 of 11 overall and was 6 of 8 beyond the arc while also grabbing nine rebounds.

His teammates shot nearly as well as he did from there. UConn was 50 percent beyond the arc (10 of 20) and was a smidge better for the game (27 of 51) at 52.9 percent.

Maybe it was the nerves of playing on their own court, but the Tigers shot poorly all over the floor.

The Tigers shot a season-worst 26.4 percent (14 of 53) and hit only six shots in the first half. They got to the free throw line after attempting only nine in an 86-81 overtime loss at UConn on Feb. 15 but wound up hitting more at the line (20 of 37) than they did field goals as they split their attempts most trips no matter how much fans tried to will them to buckets by standing and cheering.

UConn led by as much as 25, and it would have been worse if UConn hadn't cooled off too in the second half. Memphis never threatened to trim the lead as the Tigers went nearly 10 minutes between buckets before a 3-pointer by Nick King with 4:20 left.

Geron Johnson's 3-pointer gave Memphis its last lead at 4-3. Then Daniels put UConn ahead to stay with a 3 with 16:03 left, and the Huskies built that lead to as much as 14 when Ryan Boatright hit yet another 3 just before halftime for a 41-27 lead.

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