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Final Score: UConn Men’s Basketball Defeats UCF, 66-63

The Huskies led most of the way and held on for the win despite a late push by the Knights.

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Central Florida Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Ollie’s squad made the trip to Orlando to meet UCF in the teams’ second and final meeting of the season. The Huskies prevailed, 66-63, and have now won five of their last six contests.

The game had an ugly beginning, with UConn getting the scoring started a modest 3:30 into the game and UCF waiting until 13:47 left to get its first points. Despite the rough start, UConn finished the evening with a 44.2% shooting percentage, going 9-of-13 (69.2%) from behind the arc.

The Huskies fell behind by seven early on but then rode a 13-3 run over four minutes to charge ahead in a back-and-forth start to the first half. UConn then clamped down defensively and Rodney Purvis caught fire with a barrage of threes to score 17 points as the Huskies took a 35-23 lead into the break.

The hot shooting and solid ball movement continued early in the second half as UConn kept pulling away, building the lead up to 18 points.

But the win would not come easy. The Huskies weathered a late run as the Knights cut the lead down to five with just under four minutes left. UCF Guard B.J. Taylor led all scorers with 20.

The game came down to free throws at the end, and UConn was generous to let the hosts back in it with some key misses at the charity stripe, but Jalen Adams kept UConn ahead.

Adams hit a critical teardrop over 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall to keep the lead comfortable and then hit two free throws with 28 seconds left to make it a six-point game. He has also been thriving as a facilitator, averaging 6.7 per game on the season, and tonight was no different. The sophomore dished out seven in the victory effort to go along with 14 points.

Since a close road loss to Georgetown in mid-January, UConn has basically beaten the teams it should have and lost on the road to teams that were much better in SMU and Cincinnati. The projections favored the Knights going into this one, but the Huskies put up a strong performance on the road to capture the season sweep against UCF. In doing so, they put some distance between themselves and the sixth-place Knights for that coveted AAC Tournament first round bye.

UConn (12-12, 7-5 AAC) has Memphis (18-7, 8-4 AAC) next on Thursday at the XL Center, with tip-off at 9 p.m. in a game which will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2.