That was a close one.
The first half of this game was one of the ugliest displays in the history of the game. It was particularly ugly for UConn, who trailed by seven points at the break. Luckily, with better defensive effort and crisp offensive execution at the end, UConn stormed back, outscoring the Cougars 26-8 in the final 11:50 to claim its first win at Houston, 69-57.
Kevin Ollie made a curious decision starting Phil Nolan and Jalen Adams in place of Kentan Facey and Rodney Purvis. Nolan played his heart out, finishing with 8 rebounds and more assists (3) than points (2). Purvis, who struggled mightily in the loss to Tulsa, logged 20 minutes but could only manage one point, shooting 0-for-5 from the field.
Sterling Gibbs led all scorers in the game with 20 points, hitting a couple of big threes late in the second half. The first one put the Huskies ahead with 6:11 left in the game, after which they never trailed again. His second three-pointer pushed the lead to five. He hit two free throws and made two assists in the remaining time to put the game out of reach.
Jalen Adams helped keep UConn alive in the first half- for long stretches he was the most assertive player offensively for the Huskies. Despite making a number of freshman mistakes, he finished with 13 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Shonn Miller had to sit for a large chunk of the first half due to foul trouble, but scored UConn's final eight points and finished with 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting.
Daniel Hamilton didn't have a great shooting night, going 4-of-13 from the field, but at least had some quality shots go in and finished with 14 points. He also contributed nine rebounds and two assists and shot a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line. It was a good day for UConn at the charity stripe, where the Huskies finished 14-of-15.
This game ended a two-game road trip which started with the loss at Tulsa. The Huskies did well to grab this win after things were looking pretty dire. A third conference loss this early in the season, with the tougher part of the American schedule still yet to be played, would not have been good.
The Huskies will begin a three-game stretch in their next game on Tuesday when they host Tulane at the XL Center. UConn now holds a 12-5 record, 3-2 in the American Conference.