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UConn Men’s Basketball opens PK80 with a victory over Oregon, 71-63

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The Huskies put together an impressive effort to get a nice win over a talented Ducks team.

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Oregon Joseph Weiser-USA TODAY Sports

The UConn Huskies are now 4-0 after getting a statement win, 71-63, over Oregon in their opening game of the PK80 Tournament in Portland, Oregon.

The Huskies came out looking great in the first half. The offense was moving the ball well and Alterique Gilbert was able to get things going as UConn took a 38-31 lead into the break. Gilbert had 11 points at the half and finished tied with Jalen Adams for second on the team with 16 for the game. Terry Larrier led all scorers with 18 points.

Oregon opened the second half on an extended run, reclaiming the lead five minutes in and giving those who stayed up to watch after their Thanksgiving festivities an exciting finish. The UConn offense was finding decent looks, but in the second half, they just weren’t going down. Admirably, they fought through it and found their rhythm at exactly the right time.

Christian Vital tied the game at 62 after two free throws with 3:09 left. After a Ducks turnover, the Huskies had a beautiful offensive possession which ended with Gilbert finding Antwoine Anderson for a dunk to put UConn ahead, 64-62. Anderson finished with 10 points off the bench.

After a UConn stop, Terry Larrier grabbed an offensive rebound and was then fouled, making two free throws. He hit another two down the stretch to get the Huskies comfortably ahead as time wound down.

The UConn big men looked good throughout the game, particularly freshman Josh Carlton, who finished with six points and five rebounds. Unfortunately, Carlton and fellow big man David Onuorah dealt with foul trouble and both fouled out of the game.

Without his bigs late in the game, Kevin Ollie went with a small lineup down the stretch, playing Larrier at the 5 with Vital, Adams, Anderson, and Gilbert on the floor. After a quiet start to the game, Vital made a great late hustle play on a loose ball to help the Huskies keep possession. He hit three free throws late as he finished with five points to go along with six rebounds.

Despite the win, the Huskies did make some mistakes. Free throw shooting was poor until catching on late in the game. UConn finished 3-17 from behind the 3-point line, though did do a great job of sticking to what they’re best at down the stretch. It could have been easy to panic as Oregon jumped ahead in the second half, but they didn’t let that happen, and that’s one of the most encouraging things about this performance.

This is a huge win for Kevin Ollie and the Huskies. Not only do they get a solid pseudo-road win on the resume, but they move on to get another challenging team and see how far they can take it. Next up, they’ll be taking on No. 4 Michigan State on Friday evening.