Hamilton records triple double, Miller hits for 25 in UConn's easy 99-52 win over CCSU. Texas on deck.
HARTFORD: Kevin Ollie knows losing his big man inside is going to hurt for a while.
He also knows the UConn Huskies men’s basketball team can't afford to hang their heads and mope after finding out center Amida Brimah, one of the best shot blockers in the entire country, will be gone for 6-8 weeks after breaking a finger during practice on Tuesday.
“I told the team that Amida has been covering us the whole year,” Oliie said. “Now it’s time for us to cover him. We have to continue to play and play hard until he comes back.”
Playing their second of many without their junior center, the Huskies overwhelmed Central Connecticut State University by a 99-52 final behind the 11th triple-double in school history by Daniel Hamilton, one that was built in a strange way.
While Hamilton would finish with 11s across the board (points, assists and rebounds), he got there faster on the categories that usually take the longest. He had eight rebounds and assists at the half, with only two points.
Ollie put him back in second half with the game well in hand in order to give him an opportunity to earn the rare feat, but after several wild three-pointers missed the mark, Hamilton went back to the inside game and finished it off with a thunderous dunk with 6:30 left in the game.
Hamilton doesn’t give Ollie very much to complain about, although the head coach has said he would like to see him improve on the defensive end.
The Huskies' inside game will be a bone of contention until sometime in late January, but likely February when they get their big man back.
It will be a by-committee effort of sorts, it’s hard to replace a 7’0” presence that changes opposing team’s game plans on a nightly basis.
Kentan Facey posted his second career double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds as the Huskies overcame a sluggish start to build a 20-point lead at the half that they never looked back from.
Most impressive on Wednesday was the effort of fifth year senior Shonn Miller, who led all scorers with a season-high 25 points and was the beneficiary of many of Hamilton’s gifts.
Miller hit on 10 of 12 points and 4 of 6 free throws in just 22 minutes of action and has now scored in double figures in nine of the Huskies 11 games.
UConn dominated in the paint to the tune of 56-22 and won the battle of the boards by a 45-20 mark.
What becomes interesting is that the Brimah injury comes at a time that the Huskies can nary afford to give away any wins, never the less ones over quality opponents.
At 8-3, UConn has just one more out of conference game scheduled at Texas before they start play in the American Athletic Conference at Tulane on January 2. They also face Georgetown on January 23.
The Texas game looms big for a team that has missed out on several chances to garner much needed RPI points already this year.
The Longhorns are ranked 23rd in the nation in RPI, making it a critical situation for the Huskies to come away with a win and here’s why:
So far this year, Connecticut has played five teams in the top 100 in RPI rankings. They lost to Maryland (34th), Syracuse and Gonzaga who are both in the 51-100 rankings range, while beating Michigan and Ohio State who fell into the 51-100 range as well.
Beating Texas is one of the last chances UConn will have to build their resume so they don’t find themselves in the same situation they did a year ago when they had to try and win the AAC Tournament to get into the NCAA Tournament.
Put any one of those tough losses (Maryland especially) into the win column and the picture gets brighter for UConn, but those opportunities were missed, leaving the Huskies little room for effort.
A fast start will be critical on Tuesday, a slow start in their first true road game could make life very tough and start to resemble 2014-2015 far too closely.