STORRS— Kevin Ollie’s UConn Huskies didn’t wait until the second half to get going against Southern Connecticut State University—they blew past the Owls right out of the opening gates.
UConn ended the exhibition portion of its schedule with a 94-65 win over SCSU at Gampel Pavilion on Saturday afternoon. The defense was improved, Terry Larrier again was a marvel to watch and the sometimes offensively-challenged Amida Brimah put on a scoring clinic.
“I really thought everyone who played had high energy,” said Huskies’ coach Kevin Ollie. “I didn’t like 16 offensive rebounds but overall we really shared the ball well.”
UConn showed its fast-break prowess, outscoring the No. 4 Owls 14-4 in transition in the first half, 20-8 overall. After Ollie criticized the team’s defensive effort last week against the University of New Haven, the Huskies clamped down, holding Southern to just 31 percent shooting and limiting leading scorer Michael Mallory to 14 points on 4-of-17 shooting. However, Ollie’s squad had only a slight edge on the glass, 40-33, allowing 16 Southern second-chance opportunities.
“To be a great defensive team, you have to be a great defensive rebounding team,” Ollie said. “We just have to clean that up.”
Larrier, the redshirt sophomore transfer from VCU, again dazzled with his offensive versatility, bringing the 6,305 in attendance to their feet with a thunderous tomahawk slam in transition in the first half. Larrier (13 points; 3 assists; 2 rebounds) did a little bit of everything: hitting shots from beyond the arch, flashing a pretty step-back jumper, and attacking the rim when UConn got out on the break.
Leading by 11 at the break, it was Brimah who sparked a 27-6 run that put the Huskies comfortably in front and in cruise control for much of the second half. Brimah scored UConn’s first 14 points of the half, totaling a team-high 17 as he dominated the Owls’ smaller defenders on the block, setting solid screens and rolling hard to the front of the rim for easy dunks.
“When we are playing a small team the best thing for me is to be dominant offensively—post up really hard,” Brimah said. “That is something I can add to the game.”
Freshman Alterique Gilbert got the start at point guard, scoring three points while grabbing five boards and dishing out six assists. Sophomore Jalen Adams continued to look sharp, dropping 15 to go along with a team-high six rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes. Freshman Mamadou Diarra was held out with a swollen knee.
Overall the Huskies were fluid and unselfish, assisting on 23 of their 36 made baskets while averaging 1.146 points per possession. UConn once again showed full-court pressure, generating 17 turnovers and 25 points off those Southern miscues.
With the exhibition season now over, the Huskies have six days to prepare for their regular-season opener against Wagner on Friday November 11.