FIRST HALF RECAP: Huskies losing 33-19 to SMU
This is not going very well.
Kevin Ollie's Huskies are taking a 14-point deficit into the half thanks to all of the usual culprits. We aren't doing anything offensively and SMU is crushing us on the boards, 22-13. To make matters worse, the big men are in foul trouble.
UConn is shooting a gut-wrenching 20.8% from the field, with Ryan Boatright a perfectly imperfect 0-8 from the field. Daniel Hamilton has also yet to hit a shot, sitting at 0-4 from the field at the half.
Rodney Purivs and his 10 points have kept us afloat, earning UConn's first points on a contested, off-balance jumper and hitting two three pointers in the only part of the half where it looked like UConn might put something together. Unfortunately the Mustangs are shooting 46.2% from the field and seem to have no problem finding good shots against our defense.
With just over 12 minutes left, Rakim Lubin, who has been giving us solid minutes all tournament long, got his third foul with a one-foul Brimah on the bench and Phil Nolan on the floor with one as well. By the 7:30 mark, with the score 16-10, both Brimah and Nolan had two fouls which unsurprisingly led to the 17-9 run SMU ran to close out the half.
This team is clearly gassed, with Boatright having played 40 minutes in both of the past two games. Hopefully he and Hamilton can find their way offensively and our big men stay in the game long enough to give us a chance. We can't win this game with the small lineup.
There are 20 minutes left to save this season, and things aren't looking good, but this team has fought through a lot and maybe they can find a way to win one more time.
Hartford-- This is it folks, the one we have been waiting for. At 3:15, the ball goes up and UConn will have the opportunity to get an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. They're going to have to go through the top seeded SMU Mustangs to get it done.
Last night, UConn ended the game on a 16-2 run to shock Tulsa in a game the Huskies simply had no business winning. They struggled on offense throughout the evening, until the end when they didn't. Ryan Boatright, Daniel Hamilton and Rodney Purvis combined to bring UConn back from the brink of elimination. Their hard work means they get to live to fight another day.
Earlier on Saturday the Mustangs made easy work of Temple, 69-56. In the second half, SMU pulled away, blowing the Owls out by 15 points. Look for American Player of the Year Nic Moore to continue his strong play. The marquee match-up of the afternoon will be Moore vs Boatright. Whichever player has the upper hand will probably lead their team to victory. The Huskies need to do whatever it takes to neutralize SMU's Markus Kennedy. The big man is able to get points with his back to the basket and step out to 15-18 feet for his jumper. Look for Phil Nolan to mark him throughout.
It's championship Sunday here in Hartford. Really simple, if UConn wins, they're in. If they lose, well, hello NIT. The stakes could not be higher and the atmosphere should be electric.
LET'S GO HUSKIES!