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Final: UConn Men’s Basketball Takes Down ECU, 70-65

It was closer than it needed to be, and it was not pretty to watch, but UConn got its first conference win.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Embarrassingly, it came down to the final seconds, but the UConn Huskies grabbed a 70-65 victory over East Carolina in a hideous game which saw 37 total turnovers and poor shooting from both sides.

The Huskies got off to a good start, jumping out to an early 16-4 lead and looking like maybe they were ready to take care of business against a bottom-tier team. The Huskies were shooting well, making plays in the low post and moving the ball around with Isaiah Whaley, Kwintin Williams and Josh Carlton making solid contributions as role players.

But ECU got back into it once BJ Tyson warmed up and even briefly took a lead late in the first half. Kevin Ollie didn’t help the cause by mixing things up with the lineup after taking the lead, but UConn recovered and went into the break up 32-31.

The Huskies were able to take charge early in the second half and keep the Pirates mostly at bay the rest of the way, taking a seven-point lead into the final minute. But nothing comes easy for this UConn team. After Terry Larrier missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Antwoine Anderson committed a foul on an ECU 3-pointer and the free throws cut the Husky lead to three. Larrier once again missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to give ECU one last chance to tie it up.

Tyson was able to take an open but deep attempt for the tie but it missed; Tyler Polley was able to grab the rebound and make his free throws to ice a game that should have never been this close.

Jalen Adams scored 18 points to go along with six rebounds, and four assists, but also had seven turnovers, leading the way in a sloppy Husky performance that only barely earned a win. UConn finished with 16 total turnovers and ECU had 21. Terry Larrier and Christian Vital both had 16 points each but were not very disciplined in their shot selection, and neither was Adams. The Huskies ended the game with seven assists on 25 made baskets and went 2-16 from behind the arc.

On a more positive note, Whaley finished with a solid seven points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes to earn the Non-Adams, Vital, Larrier-UConn Player of the Game (TM) Award.

UConn is in action next on Wednesday night against a solid UCF team at Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies have shown a propensity for playing up to quality competition, looking alright against ranked Arizona and Wichita State teams, but has also been beatdown by Arkansas and Auburn, so who knows what to expect against the Knights.

Fifteen games into the season, we have hardly seen any improvement from this team, or any signs of the staff figuring out the best guys to supplement the Adams, Larrier and Vital core. Fans are rapidly losing interest in this team, as a sparsely populated XL Center this afternoon showed. If this season continues at this level, it is going to be a really ugly close to the season.

UConn postgame video (Kevin Ollie, Christian Vital, Isaiah Whaley, Terry Larrier, Jalen Adams)