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Final Score: UConn Men’s Basketball Falls to Cincinnati in AAC Tournament, 81-71

The Huskies battled valiantly but could not overcome foul issues as their season comes to a close.

Ian Bethune

The UConn Huskies had a chance to make a magical run but suffered a disappointing loss to Cincinnati at the XL Center in the AAC Tournament semifinals, 81-71.

Unfortunately, as much as I am loathed to say or mention it, the referees were the dominant force in this game. UConn (16-17, 9-10 AAC) suffered the brunt of the terrible officiating, as Cincinnati took 46 free throws to the Huskies’ 25, but it was bad on both sides.

That foul trouble affected UConn early in the game, as a third foul by Jalen Adams 12 minutes in helped the Bearcats mount a run which the Huskies would never recover from. At the time, UConn had shaken off a quick Cincinnati start to cut a big lead down to 21-19. But the Bearcats closed out the opening half with a 20-10 run to take a commanding lead into the break.

The Huskies kept fighting, getting the lead down to four or five on separate occasions, and the crowd was ready to explode with every big play, but Cincinnati attempted 31 of its free throws in the second half. Even though the Bearcats were cold from the field, they were getting points at the line.

Ian Bethune

It was a disappointing way for the season to end for UConn’s seniors. Their final year in Storrs saw an unprecedented flurry of poor injury luck which affected the trajectory of the whole season but they managed to salvage some pride when it looked like all was lost.

Rodney Purvis, Kentan Facey, and Amida Brimah did so much for the UConn basketball program through extremely trying times. They leave with one more banner in the rafters and every UConn fan should be proud of the way those three represented the school. Facey and Purvis left the game after fouling out and Brimah was subbed out with less than 30 seconds remaining.

This will mark the end of a disappointing season for the Huskies, but a lot of promise remains for a brighter future. UConn’s best players for major chunks of this season have been underclassmen who should be able to take another step forward next year. With Terry Larrier and Alterique Gilbert returning from injury, a NCAA Tournament run could be in the cards.

Cincinnati moves on to the finals, where it will face top-seeded SMU. It will be the first time since the formation of the American that the top two seeds will meet in the conference tournament final.

Kevin Ollie, Christian Vital, Rodney Purvis, Jalen Adams postgame:

Photo and video credit: Ian Bethune for The UConn Blog