It took only one game for UConn's Ryan Boatright to prove he can thrive under pressure.
With UConn trailing Florida State by three points on Saturday and just eight seconds left in regulation, Boatright was fouled on the potential game-tying three-pointer. The freshman enabled the fourth-ranked Huskies to escape with a 78-76 overtime victory by calmly sinking all three free throws, an impressive feat for any player but especially one making his collegiate debut after serving a six-game NCAA suspension to start the season.
Boatright's free throws were part of a promising performance in which he scored 14 points on 4-for-7 shooting and dished out three assists.
With Boatright, fellow point guard Shabazz Napier and wing Jeremy Lamb all on the floor at once for long stretches of the game, UConn had a trio of playmakers capable of bailing out the team if a designed play didn't go as planned. Those three combined for 57 of the Huskies' 78 points against a Florida State team with a well-deserved reputation for stingy perimeter defense.
UConn needed all of those points to avoid dropping two games in two days at the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. On Friday, the Huskies looked completely befuddled after heavy underdog Central Florida switched to a zone early in the second half, squandering a 17-point lead and falling 68-63.
Whereas last year's UConn team had star Kemba Walker to bail it out down the stretch in close games, the defending national champs are still adjusting to late-game situations without him this season.
Prior to Florida State bailing out the Huskies by fouling Boatright on his team's final possession of regulation, UConn had two other chances to tie or take the lead in the final minute. One resulted in a pair of badly missed free throws from Andre Drummond. The other a turnover when Drummond expected an alley-oop and Napier instead threw a bullet pass that zipped through the big man's hands underneath the rim.
Still, there were more encouraging signs for UConn on Saturday than disappointing ones. Napier and Lamb continue to thrive, Drummond is a defensive force in the paint and the Huskies may have just unveiled their latest perimeter threat in Boatright.