Remember earlier this year when all of us were wondering why UConn couldn't seem to convincingly beat lesser teams? Yeah, about that.
UConn completely and utterly laid waste to Houston tonight at Gampel Pavilion, beating the Cougars 80-43 in a game that was basically over before the opening tip. UConn jumped out right away to a 7-0 lead, and Houston didn't even score their first basket until more than three minutes into the game, by which point the tone had been set and things just spiraled out of control from there.
You just know that UConn was out looking for revenge after what happened in Houston the last time these two teams played on New Years Eve. Even still, UConn may have been going through a rough stretch at that point, but after what I saw today, I can't believe the Huskies actually lost to this team.
Listen to these stats. UConn shot 43.5 percent from the field while holding Houston to 27.3 percent shooting. The Huskies outrebounded Houston 45-37, and it was actually an even wider margin before the last five minutes when all the walk-ons came in. UConn had four players score in double-figures, while Houston's leading scorer was Danrad Knowles, who had just 10 points. TaShawn Thomas, who had scored in double-figures every game this season prior to tonight, was held to just four points.
Even after the second and third stringers came in, things didn't really get any better for Houston either. Kentan Facey played big minutes tonight and scored 7 points with 7 rebounds, plus 3 blocks. Terrance Samuel had two assists, including a lob to Facey for a picture perfect alley-oop. Phillip Nolan had 10 points and 6 rebounds, and Amida Brimah had 4 blocks.
By the way, UConn did all of this without DeAndre Daniels, who missed tonight's game with an ankle injury. Obviously the team was fine without him, which is all the more encouraging going forward.
The best part of the game was when things really got out of hand and the walk-ons started coming in at around the 5:25 mark in the second half. When Leon Tolksdorf came in, everyone started chanting "Put in Pat!" and sure enough, the red-headed walk-on phenom came into the game.
Lenehan unfortunately didn't score a point, having his best look blocked from the three-point line, but Lenehan did pull down two rebounds, which is definitely more than any of the Brimah/Nolan/Olander trio have done in certain games this year. It should be noted that Tor Watts also got into the game, but he was scoreless as well after his best look clunked off the backboard after he drove to the basket.
Bottom line, UConn just straight up killed Houston in this game, and that is a really encouraging thing to see. Earlier this year, a lot of us had a sense that this UConn team had it in them to win close games, but they couldn't lay the boom down on inferior opponents. Where were the blowouts? Well, we're starting to see more of that killer instinct lately. First you had that great finish against Memphis, then that stomping of Temple, and now this 37-point laugher.
With the win, UConn improves to 17-4 with a 5-3 mark in American conference play. UConn doesn't play again until next Thursday, when they take on a Cincinnati team that's currently leading the conference. By that point UConn will almost certainly be back in the polls, and beating Cincinnati would go a long way towards helping the Huskies bolster their resume and improve their standing going into March.
Until then, enjoy this one guys. It's not very often you get to enjoy a beatdown as thorough as this.