UConn rides another strong defensive effort in 85-67 win over ECU.
STORRS: UConn men’s basketball head coach Kevin Ollie is on one hand pleased that his Huskies have righted their ship after taking on water at times earlier this season but doesn’t want his players thinking too much about throwing away the life preserver just yet.
“I don’t want these guys to get arrogant or anything,” Ollie said, “Don’t start reading about press clippings about how we are great, we’re not a great team yet. We’re getting better each and every day, I want the guys to understand that and cherish that but two weeks ago people were writing that we were dead in the water.”
After beating East Carolina by a 85-67 final and in the process winning their six game in the last seven and their 17th game overall (matching their regular season total from last year), the Huskies appear to be rounding into shape as they prepare for the final eight games of the regular season.
UConn was led by five different players in double figures, led by Rodney Purvis and Shonn Miller with 16 points, helped greatly by the continued resurgence of one Daniel Hamilton who piled on another double-double with 12 points and 16 rebounds to go along with five assists.
Freshman Jalen Adams connected on seven of eight shots to score 14 while Sterling Gibbs added 12.
Adams was effective on both ends of the court with his aggressive attacking to the basket that played very well with the 9307 on hand, especially in the student section.
His coach was the most impressed with his four steals.
“He’s doing everything I want,” Ollie said, “He had a high turnover game today but he got four steals again, he had five the other day and three the other game. He’s getting a lot of deflections, I just want him to cut down on the turnovers.”
Against a team they should have beat, a middle of the pack Pirates team that is now 2-9 in the American, the home team used a pair of runs in the second half (9-0 and 8-0) to pull away after letting the visitors stay around, led by Prince Williams who connected of four of six three pointers until Ollie put his best defender, Rodney Purvis on him in the second half on Williams was held scoreless the final 16-minutes of the game.
For the tenth consecutive game, UConn held an opponent to under 40 percent shooting (37.1).
UConn has two revenge games on deck, starting with their match up at Temple on Thursday night. The Owls came to Hartford on January 5 and handed the Huskies a tough 55-53 loss, one of two brutal losses they had in January, the second a 58-57 loss at the XL to Cincinnati.
Temple is directly in front of Connecticut in the AAC with an 8-3 mark while the Huskies moved to 7-3.
Finishing high in the AAC cannot be understated come AAC Tournament time and as the Huskies look to make their way back to the NCAA dance as well.
Tulsa will come to Gampel next Saturday for an 8 p.m. and sits right behind UConn and owns a 60-51 win over the Huskies back on January 14.
The path is there, the Huskies just need to stay in the moment and not look too far ahead.
Their coaches’ advice?
“So, just don’t get caught up in that stuff, just get caught up in loving each other playing hard, playing solid basketball and be grateful for every day we can compete.”
NOTES: One thing Ollie said he would like to see more of is big man, Amida Brimah, who played just 10 minutes Saturday after short outings in his last two games as well.
“I don’t want to play Amida 10-minutes,” Ollie said, “I need to get him better. I want him to be out there a little longer. I think he played 13 against Memphis and 18 against UCF so you know I think about this a lot.”
Brimah picked up his first foul at the 16:14 mark and didn’t return until the 6:55 mark of the first half. That stint lasted just 77-seconds before foul number two that landed him back on the pine.
Brimah also seemed bothered by his finger at times, missing on two put backs on two separate sequences.
….Adams made the most of his time in the lane, amongst the trees that the Pirates had inside, using his speed and athleticism to easily get around for easy buckets in front of a supportive student section that ate it up, as did Adams.
“I love this,” Adams said, “I love Gampel. It’s the best college arena in the country. Yeah, I love it. So when we get a chance to play here I try and take advantage of the moment.”
….Purvis got going right about the same time he shut down Williams, scored 11 second half points.
….The Huskies won the rebounding battle, 35-30 while causing 11 turnovers. They had 18 assists on 35 baskets.