Remember a few hours ago when UConn (14-10, 7-5 AAC) was on a three-game winning streak, coming off their most complete and impressive win of the season and we started thinking it was the beginning of a turnaround?
Yeah, forget that.
On what turned out to be a heartbreaking Valentine's Day, the UConn Huskies were dismantled by Southern Methodist, 73-55. The victory improved SMU's record to 21-5 and a conference best 12-2.
The Huskies got off to a decent start, jumping out to a quick 10-3 run. Then, the Mustangs ran away. They closed the first half on a 38-16 run over the last 16:17. Playing before the biggest crowd in Moody Coliseum ever, the Mustangs blew the defending national champions out of the gym with a second half that was more of the same.
SMU's defense stifled UConn's offense into their lowest point total since December 31st against Temple. The Huskies shot just 17-50 from the field. Only Ryan Boatright and Rodney Purvis scored in double figures, with Boat leading the way at 18 points.
SMU had all five players on the floor defending on a string. Throughout the game, they forced the UConn guards into using 28 to 30 seconds of the shot clock. Over their recent stretch of strong play, UConn's offense has revolved around dribble drive penetration, leading to kick out passes. That simply was not available today. Markus Kennedy, Ben Moore, Yanick Moreia , and Cannen Cunningham locked down the paint, preventing UConn from getting any easy looks.
At the end of the day, this game was played on SMU's terms. Kennedy, coming off the bench, was in command. His physicality overpowered the slender Amida Brimah, who only played 20 minutes due to foul trouble. Without Brimah on the floor, Kennedy ran amok. He finished with a modest stat line, 13 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. But his activity level and toughness inside broke UConn.
UConn has now lost three consecutive games to SMU over the last two seasons, and are 0-4 against them all time. These are dire straights now for the Huskies. With six games remaining before the AAC Tournament, it's looking more and more likely that this team will have to run the table in order to make the NCAA Tournament. UConn gets a chance to avenge this loss on March 1st when the Mustangs trek up to Hartford. Before that day comes, there is a lot UConn needs to fix because tonight, because they looked like a broken team tonight.