Storrs, CT-- Home sweet home. After spending over 6 weeks away from campus, the UConn men's basketball team returned to Gampel Pavilion to defeat Central Florida, 67-60.
"It was great to be back home. The crowd was great," coach Kevin Ollie said. "We felt the energy they were giving us."
UConn got rolling early in the first half. Continuing their hot shooting from the Stanford game, the Huskies started 10-17 from beyond the three point line. Omar Calhoun, Ryan Boatright, Rodney Purvis and Daniel Hamilton each hit a three.
All night, the UConn offense ran efficiently. Of the 67 points scored, 65 came via the three ball, points in the paint and the foul line. A Boatright jumper late in the second half was the only midrange field goal the team hit.
The Huskies got a big night out of the Amida Brimah and Daniel Hamilton tag team. The two, who have developed great chemistry this season, hooked up on several alley oops. That has become a staple in the UConn offense, Hamilton penetrating from the top, drawing defenders off Brimah, then just lobbing it up for the sophomore center.
"We've been working on that ever since Daniel first got on campus," Brimah said. "When we're hitting threes, it forces the defense to stay on shooters, not slack off into the paint. Then I have more room to work." Brimah finished with 14 points and 4 blocks, while Hamilton once again showed off a smooth all around game. He had 10 points, 9 boards and 8 assists.
Hamilton, who has shown some freshmen woes of late, looked sensational. At times, he was UConn's most important player. As a facilitator, shooter, and fast break wing, he has the tools to help this team in myriad ways.
"We had lots of energy today, being back at home," Hamilton said. "When we get rolling like that, we don't want to settle for 1 on 1 shots, we look to share the ball, move it around, get something better." That mindset led to UConn finishing with 21 assists. That type of ball movement helped to spread the floor which led to easy looks all night.
Credit has to go to UCF for coming back and making this a close game. They trailed by 18 late in the first half, but rallied to cut the deficit to single digits. The Knights were led by a 13 point performance from freshman guard BJ Taylor. They had three other players score in double figures.
Coming off a tough two game road trip, UConn desperately needed to take care of business at Gampel.
They got the job done tonight.