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UConn Men’s Basketball Drops Exhibition Opener to Providence, 90-76

The re-tooled Huskies roster will clearly need some time to develop.

Ian Bethune

For the first time since the 2013 regular season’s final game, the UConn Huskies and Providence Friars met on the hardwood. This time, the result didn’t impact the standings as the two teams clashed in a charity exhibition in which Providence prevailed, 90-76. The event raised $75,000 for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

Though it was an exhibition, both teams used their top players the whole way through. Providence was in control from start to finish, paced by Alpha Diallo and Rodney Bullock. Diallo finished with 15 points and seven rebounds while Bullock added 15 points of his own and five rebounds. Former Husky commit Makai Ashton-Langford looked solid as well, finishing with 10 points and four assists.

For UConn, a lot of the same problems of the past few years reared their head. The offense went stagnant at times, going without a field goal for large chunks of time and doing that annoying thing where they look lost and settle for crappy shots. The Huskies also hit foul trouble early—with three quick ones in the first minutes—and it continued throughout as they finished with 29 over the course of the game.

Overall, UConn did a solid job of finding open looks, which is promising, but only went 23-of-62 (37 percent) from the field. The Huskies only had eight assists, but it was not for lack of passing, shots just weren’t going down. They also took a few too many ill-fated threes, going 6-of-22 (27 percent) from behind the arc.

Providence, on the other hand, hit 67 percent from the field and 53 percent from three. The Friars’ only hangups were at the foul line—where they only hit 21-of-35 (60 percent) freebies—and in the turnover battle, which they lost 17-10.

Jalen Adams led all scorers with 22 points and Christian Vital was second with 17. Four Huskies tied for the team lead in rebounds with four, but it wasn’t who you’d expect: three guards (Vital, Antwoine Anderson, Alterique Gilbert) and wing Terry Larrier.

Both Larrier and Gilbert were understandably rusty given the circumstances. Gilbert hit the bench early due to foul trouble and had a fairly quiet night until getting five of his eight points in the final five minutes. Larrier got off to a rocky start but found a rhythm with some nice plays.

In the frontcourt, Mamadou Diarra and Eric Cobb got the start, but only combined for six points and four rebounds in 18 minutes. Diarra fouled out and Cobb and Josh Carlton finished with four fouls, but all three looked like they could be serviceable big men this season if they can stay out of foul trouble. Cornell grad transfer David Onuorah did not play due to a hip injury sustained in practice.

Providence was clearly the better team this evening. With the PC roster returning all five starters and UConn experiencing the offseason that it had, that wasn’t a huge surprise. The Huskies showed some upside, but right now Jalen Adams looks like the only consistent contributor on the team, and that’s going to have to change.