The Open Thread: UConn vs. Harvard, UConn Down 31-26 at the Half

Giffey SLAM - David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

A must win game... and this time I mean it.

Uconn is down 5 at the end of the first half against Harvard. They had a mistake riddled first half with 11 turnovers and a final 2 minutes that looked like a bunch of weekend warriors playing their fifth game in a row. For as crappy as they played, UConn is lucky to only be down 5. Harvard has out hustled and executed with greater efficiency than the Huskies so far.

Lasan Kromah played well in his first start as a Husky and Tyler Olander manned the Center and promptly scored the team's first bucket to tie the game at 2. Ryan Boatright helped the team get off to a good start. He had a good drive for the bucket with the shot clock winding down and a great defensive play on a Harvard breakaway.

The Huskies were up 10-4 early until a 10-0 run put the Crimson up 4 with under 10 left prompting Kevin Ollie to call a timeout. They managed to stay in the game thanks to good defense despite committing seven turnovers in the first thirteen minutes. Down 16-10 with seven minutes left, two Kromah lay-ups with a Kromah block in between cut the lead to 2 and then Olander drew a foul while scoring and hit the free throw got UConn back into the game. Or so we thought.

Harvard pulled away again, amassing a 24-17 lead. Napier hit a huge three to calm the storm, but we just couldn't stop stepping on our own foot. That first half I saw lot of missed opportunities. Whether it was breakaways that didn't happen due to sloppy ball-handling or breakaways that didn't end in points, UConn refused to take the easy baskets Harvard gave them. Towards the end of the half they got lazy on defense against Harvard's motion offense.

Harvard took the court at Gampel Pavilion tonight without leading scorer Wesley Saunders, and are still up by five against a pretty talented UConn team. If UConn can't make a run in the second half and clean up their sloppy play, the Crimson might be getting their first win against UConn since 1972.

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UConn has to win this game.

There are no excuses. If the Huskies don't win this game then the season is about to take a major downward spiral.

This is a Harvard team that doesn't have the size to bully us down low the way SMU did. We're coming off of two straight devastating losses and playing in our preferred home arena against a solid opponent, but one that we should beat. UConn still has one of the best back courts in the country and a solid array of wing players- that should be enough to earn the win tonight.

I've had a lot to say about the brutal losses in Texas, perhaps even after a couple of days to cool off I may have overreacted. But I can't shake the thought that the team is playing with a noticeable lack of heart and their body language is really starting to dip and I'm not sure why. Kevin Ollie was able to work motivational miracles on a team with neutered postseason expectations and yet this year focus, discipline and hustle are glaring weak points for the Huskies.

Because I am such an optimist, I'm willing to believe that perhaps the winter doldrums, the lack of excitement for the American Conference, Kevin Ollie's Head Coaching inexperience, a road trip to Texas and bad match-up against a decent SMU team all contributed to last weeks failures... IF UConn can come out strong with a win today. Also, I want Niels Giffey to attempt six three pointers, at least.

Apparently a water main broke in Storrs and North Eagleville Rd. is closed, which is creating detours so if you're planning on going to the game budget for a little extra time to get there. I'll be watching on TV so hopefully I see a loud Gampel arena ready to support our Huskies back into the win column tonight.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @TheUConnBlog and check back here at half-time for our first ever First Half Recap and post game for a deeper discussion with your fellow fans!

GO HUSKIES!!

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