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I've got two tickets to an Eddie Money joke: Your hastily assembled Paradise Jam preview

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Huskies fall to New Mexico 66-60

Well, the first loss of the Kevin Ollie era is upon us, a frustrating 66-60 contest against the New Mexico Lobos. Like the previous two games in the tournament UConn didn't play up to their potential and let their opponent hang around, the difference is this time they couldn't pull it out in the end. Shabazz Napier had another outstanding game, but that was balanced out by a very disappointing performance from Tyler Olander, who fouled out in 12 minutes without a single rebound and with only two points.

All told though, it's tough to be that upset about the loss. If you told me at the start of the year UConn would be 4-1 I would have taken it in a heartbeat. When you combine the questions about the lineup with the massive amount of travel and odd start times, it's frankly a surprise the loss didn't come earlier. UConn lost, but it doesn't mean things aren't off to a great start.

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Open Thread: New Mexico vs. UConn

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UConn escapes Quinnipiac in double overtime

Let's not do that again. Ever.

UConn almost lost a two-decades-and-change winning streak against in state schools when they faced off against a feisty Quinnipiac team that absolutely refused to go away. The Huskies outlasted the Bobcats for an 89-83 win, but it's not one UConn fans will be thrilled about.

Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier were virtual non-factors for the first 35 minutes of the game, but with the Huskies down 55-45 with five minutes left both guards remembered how to score and brought the Huskies back from the brink. Special credit goes to Napier who went on a 9-0 run by himself in the closing minutes of regulation to keep the Huskies hopes alive.

UConn's reward for its victory is a match with a tough New Mexico team tomorrow night in the Paradise jam final. It's safe to say that if the Huskies bring their struggles from the past two games into that tilt they're going to have a much harder time escaping with a win.

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Open Thread: Quinnipiac vs. UConn

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UConn 77 - Wake Forest 71: A win, but not pretty

The thing about having a weak front line is that your guards have to play well every game and the few front court players you do have also need to show up. If not, things can go bad, as the Huskies saw tonight in a closer-than-it-should-have-been 77-71 win over Wake Forest. The combined forces of foul trouble (both Tyler Olander and DeAndre Daniels sat for much of the first half) and a mysteriously quiet Shabazz Napier (who didn't score his first basket until the 10 minute mark of the second half) meant that the Demon Deacons gave the Huskies all they could handle through the first 30 minutes.

UConn took control in the end, although a young and stubborn Wake team didn't let them completely seal the win until the final seconds. Although many of the Huskies struggled, Ryan Boatright put together the most complete performance of the young season, scoring 16 points while adding seven rebounds and five assists. Napier, whose quiet first 30 minutes underscored just how important he is to this team, pitched in an additional 16 points in the last ten minutes, nine of which came from the free throw line.

Napier eventually found his form, but the same can't be said for fellow starter Tyler Olander, who only saw 12 minutes of action after his early foul trouble. That's not good, and performances like that are going to put a serious dent in UConn's chances of overcoming stiffer competition, but the Huskies had some help tonight from an unexpected source: Enosch Motherf@#$ing Wolf. Wolf played easily his best game in a UConn uniform, scoring 12 points on 6-6 shooting and grabbing nine rebounds. I don't now how often UConn can expect Wolf to perform like that, but if he can put up even half those numbers on a consistent basis it will mean a lot.

DeAndre Daniels also deserves some credit. He struggled with fouls early, but wound up with 12 points and made more than his share of athletic plays. Meanwhile, freshman Omar Calhoun once again struggled from deep (that's two times in three games), which was reflected by the team as a whole -- the Huskies shot a a putrid 3-18 from beyond the arc.

I don't think anyone would dispute that this was UConn's weakest game of the season. Luckily for them, it also came against UConn's weakest opponent to date, so they were still able to get a win. Tonight's performance underscored the fact that UConn, if it wants to succeed this year, has very little margin for error. They might be able to get by with one key player having an off night, but things will get dicey if more than one struggles (and for the record that group of key players is Napier, Boatright, Daniels and Olander).

But a win is a win, so UConn moves on. They'll take on the winner of Quinnipiac and Iona on Sunday.

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