Despite holding a lead as large as 20 points early in the second half, UConn allowed Tulsa to whittle the deficit down to three points with 1:40 left in the game. Unlike Thursday night, the Huskies were able to hold on down the stretch and capture the win, 75-73.
The first half went all UConn's way, as the Huskies shot 59% from the field while the stifling defense held Tulsa to 31.8%. The Huskies took a 13-point lead into the halftime break and started the second half on a 12-5 run. The lead stayed in the high teens for a few minutes until UConn's defense started letting up with about 11 minutes left.
Tulsa's Pat Birt—a transfer from Illinois-Chicago—scored 21 points in the second half, including five three-pointers. The fifth cut the deficit to five points with just 4:25 remaining. Two straight Tulsa lay-ups after two subpar Husky offensive possessions cut the lead to three. Luckily, a few big plays ignited the sellout crowd at Gampel and the Huskies successfully quelled the comeback attempt.
A Rodney Purvis jumper with 42 seconds left pushed the lead back to five and then Sterling Gibbs made a steal on the ensuing Tulsa possession to effectively put the game out of reach. Purvis finished with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting in another solid performance off the bench.
Five Huskies hit double-figure scoring, with Omar Calhoun and Sterling Gibbs—UConn's starting guards—leading the pack with 14 points each. Gibbs added five assists, as did Daniel Hamilton, who casually racked up a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) while hitting two huge threes down the stretch to keep Tulsa at bay.
Hamilton also grabbed a big offensive rebound after Sterling Gibbs missed the front end of a 1-and-1 after his steal with less than a minute left. Hamilton was fouled and then hit two free throws to push the lead to seven with 23 seconds remaining.
UConn's big men put forth a solid group effort to get the job done down in the post. Shonn Miller finished with 10 points, only grabbing two rebounds. Luckily Kentan Facey put in work on the glass, grabbing five rebounds (three offensive) to go with six points after notching a DNP-CD in the last game.
Unfortunately, Amida Brimah was not much of a factor, getting into foul trouble early and finishing with just two points and two rebounds.
Even though UConn let Tulsa back in the game, the Golden Hurricane's last lead came before the midway point of the first half. It is obviously not awesome that the Huskies, once again, let a big lead slip away but at least tonight they came away with the win.
Caron Butler was added to the Huskies of Honor in a halftime ceremony. We'll have full video of the ceremony and a quick press conference he had at the break.
UConn will be back in action on Thursday against No. 16 SMU at the XL Center.