Where to start?
Should we talk about how UConn was very close to being blown out? They were lucky to be down just six at the half and everyone knew it. The Gators came out in the second half and went on a 7-0 run to extend the lead to 13 with 17:24 to play. Their press harassed the Huskies and had us on the ropes.
But there's a reason nobody's giving up on the Huskies this year. They may be missing Shabazz Napier, this may be a team that is a few steps removed from being a true contender, but Kevin Ollie is still the head coach. His Husky teams fulfill every cliche for never giving up.
From the 17:24 mark in the half, UConn stormed back, finishing on a 32-15 run. The driving force to the victory came from an unlikely source: the three point line. In the second half, the Huskies shot an outstanding 5-9 from downtown- with all five makes from Rodney Purvis and Omar Calhoun. Seeing those two step up and make big shots, especially on an afternoon when Ryan Boatright struggled, was tremendous. UConn has been searching for consistent secondary scoring all season and they got it today.
Defensively, UConn played their typical hard-nosed style. Boatright and Terrence Samuel did a good job hounding Florida's Michael Frazier and Chris Chiozza, holding them to just 2 combined 2nd half points.
There aren't enough words to get into how important Amida Brimah was in this game. He cleaned up a lot of mistakes along the perimeter, blocking two shots and challenging countless others. He still is a bit overaggressive but his activity in the paint is intimidating to any penetrating guard. Also, finishing with 10 boards was huge. A defensive possession isn't complete until the ball is rebounded, and it was nice to see Brimah notch his second double digit rebound game of the year.
At the end of the day, though, the key difference in this game was the foul shooting. In the second half, UConn knocked down all 9 of their attempts. Against Temple, and for most of the season, foul shots have been a problem. In their first true road game of the season, this young team stepped up.
Florida on the other hand, ugh. Billy Donovan's blood pressure must be through the roof watching this team. The Gators were 2-8 from the line in the 2nd half, including 4 straight misses in the final 38 seconds of the game.
Although this looks like a down year for the Gators, this was huge for UConn. In their first true road game of the year, the Huskies took a big punch, rallied and overcame a big deficit to leave with a much needed victory. With a road trip to Stanford on the horizon, UConn knows it can go into hostile territory and win. That confidence is key to get the job done.
Check back here on the UConn Blog for more coverage of UConn's victory.