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Three Point Shot: UConn at Memphis

The Huskies’ struggles in conference play continue.

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Often times, the difference between winning and losing comes down to executing fundamentals and not beating yourself.

UConn’s 5-9 record, while disappointing, doesn’t tell the whole story. The Huskies have played mostly competitive basketball all season despite having a short bench and missing key players. Recent games vs Ohio State, Auburn, and Tulsa were all there for the taking in spite of this.

Whether it was poor shot selection, turnovers, or lapses on defense, the Huskies found ways to beat themselves late.

After the loss at Memphis, the Huskies are off to an 0-3 start in conference play. Here’s what we learned Thursday.

Squeezing the Orange: UConn coaches and fans can point to a number of reasons behind the three opening losses in conference play. However, the one constant has been an inability to take care of the ball. In conference play, the Huskies average 15 turnovers per game with a -7.3 turnover margin. Thursday was much of the same with the Huskies committing 15 turnovers (Memphis had 4). For a team that struggles to score, UConn has to value each possession more and give its offense a chance.

Cleaning Up the Glass: One silver lining that gets lost in the outcome was the play of UConn’s frontcourt. The Huskies out-rebounded Memphis 49-28, including 18 offensive boards. For all the talk of Amida Brimah’s rebounding, the senior grabbed a career-best 15 coming off a 9-rebound performance against Tulsa. Kentan Facey added nine boards. The frontcourt has been a surprising strength for UConn at both ends this season.

No Such Thing as Garbage Time: This holds true for any underclassman in college basketball. No matter how much a player learns in practice, getting minutes in live games goes a long way towards development.

UConn’s slew of injuries has opened up major playing time for freshmen that wouldn’t have otherwise seen the floor. Vance Jackson made the most of his minutes Thursday scoring 14 points on 5-8 shooting. Juwan Durham looked poised in the paint dropping 4 points and 5 boards in 12 minutes. Yes, there have been growing pains. There will be many more from them as well as from Christian Vital.

While the wins have been few and far between, Kevin Ollie and the coaching staff have to keep them hungry and competitive. UConn may not dance come March, but what these freshmen learn this season will go a long way in their collegiate careers.