Halftime: Memphis 40 - UConn 39
So... does Memphis normally shoot like this?
Coming into the game, the prevailing narrative was that UConn was an elite three-point shooting team with a dreadful inside game, whereas Memphis was one of the nation's worst three-point shooting teams, but they do a lot of damage in the paint. The way it's turned out, there have been stretches where it has seemed like the opposite.
Memphis is 5-for-8 from behind the arc so far today, while UConn is only 5-for-12. Most of UConn's shooters actually aren't doing too bad, really it's just Shabazz Napier, who has attempted six shots all game – all from three – and made only one. That's not good.
Defensively UConn has been solid, though there were a couple of occasions where Memphis got loose for a big run, notably a 10-2 run midway through the half. Generally speaking though, this is the sharpest the Huskies have looked against a quality opponent in a while, and if the team can cut down on the fouls and play Memphis' forwards tougher inside, they should have a good chance to take this game.
- Napier, Lasan Kromah and Omar Calhoun all have 7 points to lead the Huskies.
- DeAndre Daniels has 5 points and 5 rebounds, Amida Brimah has 4 points and 3 rebounds.
- Bench Play: Memphis' leading scorer is Michael Dixon Jr., who has 12 points and 2 rebounds off the bench. Calhoun's 7 points are also off the bench, and has generally been his most productive performance in a while.
- Napier became the first member of UConn's 1,500 point and 500 assist club tonight, congrats Shabazz!
- Rebounding: Memphis leads UConn 19-14.
- Tyler Olander has seen some action at the power forward tonight, with Brimah at center. This is a new look for the Huskies, but it was fairly short lived.
VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
Jonathan logo from 1959 will have his own t-shirt for sale at the co-op if this gets 100 retweets before the end of tonight's game.— Kyle Muncy (@UConnTrademark) January 17, 2014
@NoEscalators Get to 1,000 retweets by the end of the game and I will have them try to work up a hat also.— Kyle Muncy (@UConnTrademark) January 17, 2014
Well what are you waiting for? Don't you want a 1959 Husky logo hat!?! We already got to 100, go find that tweet and retweet it right now!
First Half Recap by Mac Cerullo. You're welcome.
Deep breaths Husky fans. In about 90 minutes UConn begins a huge two game run that could potentially define the season.
Win, lose or draw we need Shabazz and co. to remind us why we had placed so much confidence in this team in the first place. They've beaten a good Indiana team that just upset No. 3 Wisconsin, a Top 40 Harvard team and a Florida team that is currently ranked No. 7 in the country. All good news.
Dissenters (or pessimists) are quick to point out that two of those games were in Gampel (Indiana was neutral) and two of them were one point wins. Moreover, the win against Harvard came with the Crimson missing their leading scorer. Also, UConn was embarrassed on New Years Eve by Houston, and left Texas 0-2 after being manhandled by SMU. The win over UCF, though encouraging, is less impressive than the numbers would indicate given the quality of the opponent.
So we don't know jack about this team, but we're about to find out.
I am optimistic that the primary reason for UConn's previous woes was the mild, probably underplayed Shabazz Napier injury. With a limited Shabazz, UConn struggles mightily. Luckily, he has looked much more like himself lately.
Freshman Center Amida Brimah is coming off a career game against UCF. The relatively unheralded recruit scored 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting with 8 rebounds and 5 blocks. He faces a huge test today in Memphis' Shaq Goodwin. Hopefully he's up to the task, because otherwise we'll have to just trot out Olander to foul the crap out of the 65% free throw shooter.
We're in for a good one tonight folks. I have a feeling we'll see something special, hopefully it's a special UConn win. This is your open thread Husky Fans, let's hear what you think. Also be sure to follow us @TheUConnBlog for our quick takes on the action. And be sure to check back in for the First Half recap to discuss the half's events.