With the frustrations of four-straight losses after an already rough start snowballing, it has taken far too long for the Huskies to play at the high standards their predecessors set. But at least it happened on Sunday in the win over UCF.
The Huskies came out hungry from the opening tip and rode their defense to a satisfying victory. It was refreshing to see them effectively spread the ball on offense, win 50-50 balls, and play 40 minutes of dominant defense.
In what was the most complete team-win of the season, here's what we learned from Sunday's action:
Fast Start... Furious Defense
Kevin Ollie's decision to start a bigger lineup paid off immediately. UConn hit its first four shots including a pair of Rodney Purvis threes to jump to a 10-0 lead. Running a crisp offense and spreading the ball out well, the Huskies shot 47% from the floor and hit six threes.
UConn out-scored UCF 28-6 in the paint and 11-2 on the fast break. It was also the first time the Huskies won the turnover margin in conference play, going +3.
What was more impressive was the total domination on the defensive end. UCF's star center Tacko Fall came in averaging 14 PPG, 11 RPG, and an NCAA-leading 80% FG%. UConn held Fall scoreless in 25 minutes and UCF to just 33% shooting. Yes, the Knights hit 9-21 from three, but clean looks were hard to come by all afternoon.
Staying on the Floor
The major catalysts behind that 33% defensive effort were Amida Brimah and Kentan Facey's strong performances. Brimah finished with 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Facey finished with 8 points and 9 boards.
More impressive was that for the second-straight game, both bigs weren't limited by foul trouble. Facey played a team-high 37 minutes while Brimah played 29. With the seniors becoming the focal point on both ends of the floor, this trend will have to continue for UConn to make a run in conference play.
Confidence is Key
UConn came out focused and loose at tip-off and never looked back. Rodney Purvis broke out of his shooting slump to score 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting (3-of-7 from three). Vance Jackson's jumper looked crisp, scoring 11 points on six shots. Jalen Adams filled the stat sheet with 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists.
The complete effort Sunday against a solid UCF team could be a turning point at an opportune time. Winning convincingly should boost the Huskies’ spirits heading into a tough three-game stretch coming up against Temple, Georgetown, and SMU.