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UConn Men’s Basketball Delivers Blowout Against Drexel

The Huskies were much more dominant today than they were Saturday against Manhattan

UConn’s Tarin Smith (2) slams home two of his 20 points.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Following a sloppy win against Manhattan, the UConn men’s basketball team was looking to deliver a more aesthetically pleasing victory against Drexel tonight, and did just that. The Huskies beat Drexel 97-65 and were able to rectify a lot of the sloppy play from a game ago. Jalen Adams, Alterique Gilbert, Christian Vital, and Tarin Smith all finished in double figures, as Adams and Smith led the way with 20 apiece.

Drexel came in with a rep for being a strong three point shooting team and averaged 82 points per game, but the Huskies were able to stifle that attack for the most part. Early on Drexel got some easy looks in the paint, but after that, everything was contested. The defensive pressure that Dan Hurley has been preaching was there, with UConn forcing several set breakdowns from Drexel that led to 16 points off turnovers.

Game flow for both squads was often interrupted by quick, sometimes questionable, whistles from the officials, which led to a lot of lineup shuffling. Jalen Adams, Sidney Wilson, and Tyler Polley all picked up early fouls and were forced to sit. However, that didn’t sap UConn’s energy. The Huskies were flying all over the floor and getting after deflections and loose balls.

Adams, and Wilson in particular, were able to come back out and impact the game. The senior guard got into the lane at will, while Wilson delivered the play of the game. Coming to help on the weak-side, he pinned a Drexel layup against the backboard. With the fast break ignited, Wilson ran the floor and promptly followed up a Josh Carlton miss with an athletic put-back dunk. It was a nice moment for the visibly amped Wilson that injected some enthusiasm into the crowd.

UConn finished the first half with only five turnovers, a welcome sign given its recent penchant for giving the rock away. Overall, Drexel wasn’t able to get into its sets on offense, and the discomfort that created juiced the offense. At the half, Hurley noted “we got used to their pace and cutting. we weren’t ready to guard the first four minutes.”

UConn opened the second half with a great designed set play from Vital to Adams. It was good to see the Huskies draw something up and execute out of the break. The threes were falling in the second half with UConn connecting on six of their first eight threes. From then on, it was off to the races. UConn smelled blood and came for it, extending its lead to 30 with about eight minutes to play and never looking back.

Player Notes

Christian Vital - A classic Christian Vital game. Hit a three early, then forced shots and had some mind-numbing turnovers. But always brought energy, timely rebounds, and eventually caught fire again.

Kassoum Yakwe - Was the first off the bench for Carlton, had some nice blocks, and even a **checks notes** lefty baby hook! As he works his way back from injury, you can see his impact on the defensive end, and even a (slowly) burgeoning offensive presence.

Alterique Gilbert - He was erratic at times with his ball-handling, but was always a pest on the defensive end. Drew back-to-back charges in the first half. Was in much more control in the second half.

Jalen Adams (sans headband)- Early foul trouble, but give him credit for coming out aggressive after. Made a lot of smart cuts in the second half that led to easy looks. Also of note: Adams passed Kevin Freeman for 19th on the Huskies all-time scoring list.

Tarin Smith - Continues to be a steadying presence and always makes the right play. Was perfect from the field today, including three big and-ones in the first half (even if he did AIR BALL one of those freebies).

Brendan Adams - Could never get into the flow due to some tacky fouls, but provided good ball handling and decision making. Did a solid job running the offense in garbage time.

Sid Wilson - Like Adams, good on him for coming out aggressive after early foul trouble. You could say his back-to-back highlight plays turned the tide for good. His athleticism is... noticeable, to put it lightly.

Isaiah Whaley - Saw his first action in the second half as he works his way back from an ankle injury.

Tyler Polley - Connected on some shots in the second half. When he’s on, it stretch defenses and leaves lanes wide open for penetration.

Josh Carlton - Came back in after foul trouble and got two quick buckets, while keeping the ball high. He still remains UConn’s most talented and consistent big.

Eric Cobb - Like Whaley, only saw garbage time, ceding his minutes to Yakwe for the time being.

Christian Vital, Tarin Smith, Dan Hurley, Jalen Adams postgame video