UConn leads 39-33
If there was one thing the Huskies wanted to bring back to Storrs was there hot shooting. In their last game, against Stanford, UConn shot 10 of 20 from three point range. That marksmanship made the trip to Storrs. In tonight's opening 20 minutes, UConn matched that total. Ryan Boatright, Omar Calhoun, Rodney Purvis, and Daniel Hamilton each drilled at least one three pointer.
After a dispiriting road trip, the energy UConn has brought tonight has been spectacular. This is their first game on campus at Gampel Pavilion in 48 days. The student section is here in full force. A sequence in the middle of the half saw Calhoun throw down a jam, sink a three then a fast break jam by Hamilton sent the crowd into a tizzy.
Defensively, the Huskies allowed UCF to hang around all half, mostly as a result of personal fouls. UCF has struggled from the field, finishing the half just 11 of 29. Yet, they trail by just six, mostly a result of going 8/9 from the foul line. Center Justin McBride and guard BJ Taylor pace the Knights with 9 points each.
This has been a big time performance from UConn's offense. Keep shooting like this, consider the losing streak a thing of the past.
After a long winter break, the UConn Huskies (9-7, 2-2 AAC) make their return to Gampel Pavilion to take on UCF (9-8, 2-4 AAC) in Storrs. UConn has not played a game on campus since being upset by Yale on December 5th. Since then, the Huskies have been up and down, going 6-4 in games played in Hartford, Bridgeport and on the road.
The Huskies return on a two game losing streak, having dropped games at Tulsa and at Stanford. These have been trying times for Kevin Ollie's team. Troubling signs have emerged up and down the roster, and at this point, no one can be relied upon to show up and carry this team. Against Stanford, UConn had one of their best shooting nights, finishing with 10 made threes. But their lack of effort and intensity on the glass led to the Cardinal winning 72-59.
UConn needs their senior captain Ryan Boatright to reclaim his early season form. Since injuring his ankle against Temple, Boat has not looked like himself. He's played passively and has not shot the ball well. This team will only go as far as he is going to bring them. Now is the time for Boat to bounce back.
The Knights enter tonight having dropped four of their last six contests. Although they are over .500, UCF is a notch below the Huskies on a talent basis. But, as UConn fans have learned this season, talent is not enough to bring a victory for the Huskies. The key to slowing down the Knights is in corralling their guards. With a three-guard set, the Knights like to push the ball in transition off misses. Boatright, Rodney Purvis and Terrence Samuel need to pick their man up early in transition to slow the Knights' attack.
This could be a make or break game for the Huskies. Returning home to Gampel should provide a big boost, but it's on them to bring the energy. Let's see what they got.
Follow me on Twitter @ElanDeCarlo for updates. Check back at TheUConnBlog.com for halftime and post game coverage.