By Rachel Cohen I Associated Press
NEW YORK -- DeAndre Daniels scored 27 points, 19 in the second half, and UConn held off Iowa State 81-76 on Friday to reach the East Regional final a year after the Huskies were barred from the NCAA Tournament.
Daniels hit his first six shots after halftime, the only Husky to make a field goal for over 8½ minutes. His 3-pointer gave seventh-seeded UConn a 49-32 lead.
The Cyclones rallied late, pulling within 67-63 with 2½ minutes remaining. But senior Niels Giffey hit a 3 in the corner for his first points since the game's opening moments, and when the Huskies (29-8) made their free throws in the final minute, the UConn fans packing Madison Square Garden could celebrate.
Dustin Hogue scored a career-high 34 points for third-seeded Iowa State (28-8), but Big 12 player of the year Melvin Ejim was 3-of-13 for seven points.
UConn will face top-seeded Virginia or fourth-seeded Michigan State on Sunday for a trip to the Final Four.
The Cyclones, in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2000, were playing their second game without third-leading scorer Georges Niang, who broke his foot in their tournament opener.
Iowa State's Naz Long missed a 3-pointer with UConn clinging to a 70-65 lead and less than a minute left, and 6-1 Shabazz Napier pulled down the rebound and was fouled by Hogue. The senior calmly drilled both free throws.
Napier, the American Athletic Conference player of the year, drained four early 3-pointers, then made only one more field goal the rest of the way. But the quick start by Napier and backcourt mate Ryan Boatright opened up space for the 6-foot-9 Daniels, an inconsistent junior who can score all over the court when he's on.
Since a stretch in late February and early March when he failed to reach double figures in four straight games, Daniels had averaged 15 in his last six outings before Friday. He shot 10-of-15 and pulled down 10 rebounds against Iowa State.
After Napier's difficult early 3-pointers -- he was falling away on two of them and stepping back to open a sliver of space on a third -- Boatright and Daniels took over. The three combined for all but six of the Huskies' points as they built a 36-26 halftime lead.
UConn is back in the NCAA Tournament after academic sanctions kept the Huskies out last season. They were also ineligible for their last Big East tournament at the Garden as a member of the conference, but looked right at home Friday.
The last time UConn made it this far, the Huskies won a national title when Napier and Giffey were freshmen.
Michigan 73, Tennessee 71
INDIANAPOLIS -- Jordan Morgan scored 15 points and Nik Stauskas had 14 including a key free throw to help Michigan hold on for a 73-71 victory over Tennessee in Friday's first Midwest Regional semifinal.
The second-seeded Wolverines now play either Louisville, who they lost to in last year's national championship game, or 2012 national champion Kentucky Sunday.
The Wolverines (28-8) led by 15 with 10:55 to go, but committed four turnovers in the final 97 seconds. Tennessee (24-13) cut the lead to 72-71 and had a chance to take the lead, but Jarnell Stokes was called for an offensive foul with six seconds left.
Stauskas then made 1-of-2 free throws and Tennessee's long desperation heave was off the mark.
Jordan McRae scored 24 to lead the 11th-seeded Vols.
For most of the first 36 minutes, Michigan was in firm control.
Then came a stunning turnaround by Tennessee, a bubble team that had to win a first round game just to get into the round of 64.
When Stauskas, the Big Ten player of the year, knocked down a 3-pointer with 3:37 to go, the Wolverines led 70-60 and looked like they would cruise.
Instead, Tennessee gave up just one more basket and steadily took advantage of Michigan's miscues. When McRae completed a three-point play with 1:56 left, the Vols trailed 72-67. Richardson's layup made it 72-69 with 24.6 seconds left and when the Wolverines threw away the ball on the next possession, McRae's layup cut Michigan's lead to 72-71.
Another turnover on an inbounds play gave Stokes the chance to put Tennessee ahead.
But Stokes, who contended he did not commit the foul, was called for the charge and the Vols' comeback was over.
Michigan should be getting used to these sorts of finishes in Indianapolis.
Two weeks ago when they were in Indy for the Big Ten tourney, the Wolverines had to hang on twice after seemingly having comfortable leads against Illinois and Ohio State. Eventually, they wound up losing to Michigan State in the title game.
Their inability to put a team away nearly did them in Friday.
It sure didn't look like it would come down to the final shot when Michigan shot 61.5 percent from the field in the first half and led by as much as 13. Or even in the second half when they led by as much as 15.
But Tennessee buckled down defensively and rallied to cut the lead to six with 6:41 to play before the closing rally.