The UConn Huskies managed their first game against good competition without Amida Brimah pretty well, holding on for a crucial win over the Texas Longhorns, 71-66.
The UConn offense appeared more intent on creating good scoring opportunities tonight than in previous games. Generally speaking, it looked like the Huskies were taking better shots and did an especially good job down the stretch of going to its best players: Daniel Hamilton and Rodney Purvis. Hamilton finished with 13 points, four rebounds, and two assists, steals, and blocks each while Purvis led the team with 18 points to go along with five rebounds.
Two post players stepped up for the Huskies tonight in Amida Brimah's absence. Even though Texas was also missing a big man, it appeared early on the Longhorns' backups may have been better equipped to handle it. Instead, Shonn Miller and Kentan Facey both had great games for the Huskies. Miller finished with 13 points, 7 rebounds, and one glorious putback dunk while Facey put up a scrappy seven points and grabbed eight rebounds.
This was a very, very important win for Kevin Ollie and the Huskies- one which will shine very brightly on the NCAA Tournament resumé. If we want to nitpick on the team's performance after a solid win, the free throw shooting definitely needs work- even though the Huskies made 6-of-6 at the end to ice the game, they were just 5-of-11 before that.
Additionally, the Husky defense looked lackluster at times, especially at the start. Longhorn guards Tevin Mack and Isaiah Taylor both seemed to be able to get to the basket fairly easily, finishing with 20 and 19 points, respectively. Overall the team rebounds (35-34, UConn, both had 10 OR) and turnovers (13-10, UConn) were pretty even while UConn shot slightly better from the field and much better from three-point range.
Freshman point guard Jalen Adams also continued to show the promise which he has flashed all season long. He finished with eight points and seems to be earning Kevin Ollie's trust, as he was on the court in the crunchtime moments at the end.
The Huskies will be in action next on Saturday when they open conference play on the road against the Tulane Green Wave, who just gave Memphis a pretty good game today in their American opener. The game will be televised at 7:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.