After an 11-day layoff, the UConn Huskies men’s basketball team showed more energy and hung tough with No. 18 Arizona for most of the game before losing 73-58 on the road in Tuscon.
UConn (7-4) survived a rough first half to hang tight with the Arizona Wildcats and pulled within striking distance multiple times in the second half before Arizona broke things open to seal the victory.
Shortly after Terry Larrier hit a pair of free throws to cut Arizona’s lead to two points and make it 57-55, the Wildcats rattled off an 8-0 run capitalized by a deep 3-pointer from Alonzo Trier to pull away and make it 71-56.
Before Arizona blew things open in the final five minutes, UConn stuck with the Wildcats through a sloppy first half. Despite 11 turnovers and shooting just 36 percent from the field, the Huskies managed to trail Arizona 30-23 through the first 20 minutes largely due to their ability to keep freshman sensation Deandre Ayton in check.
Ayton picked up two fouls in the first half and was held to just three points, which came on a bank-shot 3-pointer from the top of the key. The freshman phenom finished the game with a strong second half to finish with nine points, seven rebounds and five assistts.
While Ayton couldn’t get it going in the first half, Dusan Ristic powered the Wildcats, scoring 10 of his 18 points in the first half and adding six rebounds and a block. Throughout the game, Ristic’s arsenal of low post moves proved too much for UConn to handle.
After their shaky first half, UConn battled back and come out hot out of the gates to open the second half, rattling off a 7-0 run after a pair of Terry Larrier jumpers and a Christian Vital 3-pointer made it 30-30.
The tie would be the closest the Huskies would come to taking the lead all game, but Arizona hit 3-pointers on their next four scoring possessions to remain the driver’s seat, including two from Rawle Alkins, who led all scorers with 20 points.
With UConn trailing by five with 10 minutes to play, Jalen Adams hit a 3-pointer that was answered by a bucket from Ristic to make it 52-48. Then Christian Vital hit a deep 3-pointer to pull the Huskies within one with eight minutes to play before Ristic answered once again.
On the next possession, Eric Cobb made a layup over Ayton to pull within one once again before the Wildcats began to pull away for good.
Larrier led the Huskies with 18 points on 7-15 shooting, followed by Jalen Adams (13 points) and Christian Vital (11). Adams also had a team high five turnovers and was tied for the lead in assists with two.
Overall, the Huskies showed more energy and displayed the talent necessary to hang with a top-20 team. While the game got away from them in the end, UConn looks to salvage the holiday road trip with a win on the road against Auburn Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2.