With UConn entering the weekend on a three-game winning streak against the bottom feeders of the American Athletic Conference, Saturday’s matchup at No. 14 Cincinnati figured to provide a true litmus test for the Huskies.
After Cincinnati (21-2) won, 82-68, in a mostly uncompetitive affair, the main takeaway is that UConn (10-12) can’t hang with the AAC’s elite right now.
The Huskies, who regressed back to a .500 league record (5-5) following the defeat, had a full six days to prepare for the Bearcats and had Juwan Durham and Steven Enoch back in uniform—the frontcourt duo missed three and four games, respectively, due to foot injuries.
But UConn responded with its worst defensive showing of the season.
Cincinnati scored 82 points on 67 trips, with the 1.22 points-per-possession mark being the highest UConn has allowed this year. Kyle Washington, who hit his season average of 13 points by the 9:06 mark of the first half, finished with a career-high 27 on 11-of-18 shooting. The Bearcats missed ten of their initial eleven three-pointers, only to hit 11 of their next 15 (73%).
All night long, Amida Brimah and other UConn bigs found themselves on the disadvantageous side of mismatches, struggling to guard the 6-foot-9 Washington and 6-foot-8 Gary Clark (20 points, 8-of-14 FG) out on the perimeter.
The most telling sequence came early in the second half, when Cincinnati extended an eight-point cushion to 19 thanks to an 11-0 run, featuring a Washington three-pointer while guarded by Kentan Facey plus consecutive threes and a putback by Clark, all while guarded by Enoch.
As a result, the Bearcats have won 14 straight, are now 10-0 in the AAC, and have reeled off 22 consecutive home victories, tied for the third-longest streak in America.
Rodney Purvis led UConn with 20 points and Brimah added 16.
The Huskies, who trailed by as many as 26, received a second consecutive lackluster performance from Jalen Adams, who scored all of his eight points in the second half after being plagued by early foul trouble early.
Facey also had a rough going, finishing with 2 points on 1-of-8 shooting.
The rematch will take place in Storrs on March 5th in the last regular season contest for both squads.
UConn will next take the floor on Wednesday when the Huskies host South Florida.