The UConn Huskies (20-9, 10-6 American) stumbled at home against the University of Houston, 75-68, in Gampel Pavilion. The game was close most of the way, but Houston pulled away late with a stellar shooting performance.
Daniel Hamilton seemed to put his recent shooting struggles behind him, putting up 20 points and going 8-of-14 from the field, but the Huskies didn't get much from the rest of the roster. Amida Brimah was the team's only other double-digit scorer, with 10 points to go with seven rebounds.
The first half was going well, for the most part. The Huskies played good defense, forcing seven turnovers and sparking some transition play. Combined with 48% shooting this allowed UConn to keep the Cougars at arm's length, with a lead as high as nine points, in the first 20 minutes. A 7-0 run in the middle of the first half was punctuated by a huge Rodney Purvis dunk to bring the lead to 24-15 for UConn.
Things started to go downhill as the half was winding down, however. Shonn Miller collected his second foul with 4:10 to go and UConn up nine. Houston went on a 10-2 run without Miller on the floor to take a one-point deficit into the break.
UConn came out hot in the second half, scoring two quick buckets- one off a Shonn Miller assist to freshman Jalen Adams, and one scored by the senior forward. Then Miller picked up his third foul. The Cougars proceeded to go on a 9-0 run, forcing Kevin Ollie to use a timeout.
An Adams lob to Amida Brimah after the timeout brought the crowd alive, but the elation was short-lived.
The Huskies fought back to regain the lead on a Hamilton basket with 10:13 remaining. For the next 10 minutes, no team led by more than three until Damyean Dotson hit a very contested three-pointer to push the Houston lead to six with 1:03 to go. From there the Huskies had to foul and try to make some threes but they were unable to claw back into it.
As has been a problem all season, the Huskies struggled to get to get to the free-throw line, taking only six in the first half and finishing with a measly eight total. This is simply not enough for a team that shoots over 75% from the free throw line.
Going into the game, UConn had the third best shooting defense in the country, with opposing teams hitting around 37% of their shots on average. Houston shot almost 52% from the field today, including 43.8% from behind the arc. UConn couldn't stop Damyean Dotson, who scored 22 points on 4-of-9 shooting from three, adding 14 rebounds and three assists.
The win vaults Houston ahead of UConn in the conference standings, with the Huskies falling to sixth.
After this very disappointing loss, UConn will play No. 24 SMU in Dallas on Thursday. The Huskies would do well to redeem today's loss with a road upset later this week.