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UConn Men’s Basketball Crushed by SMU, 69-49

Just as it looked like the UConn men had turned things around, the last two games happened.

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Southern Methodist Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that was close early on but changed with a 26-5 first half closing run by SMU, the UConn Huskies fell to the Mustangs, 69-49 at Moody Coliseum in Dallas, TX.

The Huskies fall to 7-11 on the season and 2-4 in the American Athletic Conference.

UConn’s offense struggled out of the gate and never picked up. A putback from Kentan Facey opened the scoring, followed by a short jumper by Amida Brimah. However, after that small offensive outburst, the Huskies went scoreless for four-and-a-half minutes while turning the ball over five times before the under-12 timeout.

The Mustangs came in as one of the top three-point shooting and offensive rebounding teams in the country but UConn was able to neutralize both for part of the first half, which kept them in the game. The Huskies pulled within three and had the ball with the chance to tie.

They tried to find Amida Brimah down low but Brimah was called for an offensive foul while posting up. Frustrated with the call, Brimah threw the ball off the backboard and was hit with a technical foul.

The technical galvanized SMU, who went on a 10-0, capped off by a big dunk by Jarrey Foster. On the ensuing possession, Foster followed up his dunk with a huge block that sent Vance Jackson to the floor. However, he stood over Jackson and earned a technical himself for taunting, giving UConn two free throws and the ball.

But the Huskies didn’t capitalize and the SMU continued their stranglehold on the game. The Mustangs went on a 16-0 run and held UConn scoreless over the final 5:28 of the half. The Huskies shot just 6-of-28 (21.4%) in the first half while only getting to the free throw line once on the technical foul.

Coming out of the halftime break, the Huskies went straight to Kentan Facey, who scored a quick basket. It would only be false hope, however. SMU responded with an alley-oop and three-pointer on consecutive possessions, forcing Kevin Ollie to take a timeout.

After being sentenced to the bench for the remainder of the first half, Brimah would find himself there to begin the second half. Once he entered the game, Brimah quickly picked up his fourth foul and found himself with a seat near all the walking wounded. And with no Steven Enoch due to a stress reaction in his right foot, UConn’s front court depth took a hit.

If there was a bright spot in the second half, Vance Jackson found his stroke from deep, hitting 5-of-10 from three en route to a career-high 17 points. He’s scored in double-figures in six of the last seven games and looks to be emerging as a legitimate scoring threat for this team. Although his team was down big, Jackson continued to fight down to the final buzzer.

Kentan Facey garnered a double-double, scoring 13 points while grabbing 10 rebounds. He continues to be the Huskies’ most consistent player and has arguably been their best player over the last few games.

The loss is certainly disappointing. Not only is scoring 46 points bad enough, but UConn was out-classed all night long and never showed much fire.

Hopefully, they can right the ship on Sunday when they host the East Carolina Pirates at the XL Center in Hartford, CT at 6 p.m.