Despite having just six scholarship players available, UConn Men’s Basketball put together a solid performance Sunday evening, taking down East Carolina 72-65 at the XL Center.
The Huskies got off to a great start thanks to the efforts of Jalen Adams and Kentan Facey. It started off fairly even early but UConn broke ahead with a 21-0 run which spanned nearly eight minutes. East Carolina answered back with a 13-0 run of its own, but the Huskies still led by ten at the halftime break. Adams had 10 after 20 minutes and finished with 19 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds.
Facey notched the third double-double in his past four games with 13 points and 10 boards. He’s averaging 12.5 points and 9 rebounds in his last six games.
East Carolina, with assistant coach Michael Perry serving as interim head coach due to Jeff Lebo’s hip surgery, closed the gap to single digits a couple of times in the second half but the Huskies responded each time. The Pirates were led by Kentrell Barkley, who put up 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds, but poor shooting (37.7 FG%, 9-27, 33% 3FG%) kept ECU from doing any significant damage.
Rodney Purvis had a strong second half, getting buckets in transition on his way to 16 points in the game. Freshman Christian Vital, the sixth man and only scholarship player available off the bench, contributed a rock-solid eight points, seven rebounds, and four assists, most of which came in the second half. In addition to the three players out for the season, big men Steve Enoch and Juwan Durham were sidelined with foot injuries.
UConn did a great job of consistently hitting its shots from the floor (54 FG%) and the free throw line (75%) in the victory effort.
Regardless of the opponent—East Carolina went into the game ranked 215th nationally by KenPom—this is an encouraging performance for a team which keeps taking injury hits. Kevin Ollie’s squad needs to win its next two games against similarly inferior competition and also get healthy before a road contest against Cincinnati two weekends from now.
The Huskies will be in action next in Tampa against USF. The game will be on ESPNU at 7 p.m. ET.