The UConn Huskies men’s basketball team lost to No. 11 Florida State 79-71 at the Prudential Center in New Jersey on Saturday night. The Huskies lost their second game in six days and fell to 7-3 on the season.
Here are our takeaways from the evening’s events in Newark.
Can’t match size and physicality
Dylan Finer: The Huskies were burnt by the length and strength of Mfiondu Kabengele and Terance Mann on both sides of the floor. Kabengele, a 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward, put up 15 points and wasn’t challenged by UConn’s combination of Eric Cobb and Kassoum Yakwe. UConn’s guards struggled to match length and physicality, too. Terance Mann poured in 20 and clamped down on his assignments on the defensive end of the floor.
UConn plays with three guards and an undersized center the majority of the time making teams with length and size a difficult matchup for the team. As Sidney Wilson continues to settle into the rotation, the Huskies will turn into a more “typical” lineup in terms of its length.
UConn can rally
Finer: UConn was down as many as 16 in the second half, but it was able to pull the game within five with a minute left. The Huskies turned up the pressure on defense and outscored Florida State 26-20 over the final 10 minutes of the game. Dan Hurley masterfully handled his rotations as the team was able to sustain full court pressure over this period. The Huskies forced three turnover, which isn’t an especially impressive number, but was able to clamp down and force tough shots — a testament to its discipline in the half court after applying full court pressure.
UConn was also able to increase its efficiency on the offensive end of the floor which made the comeback possible. Alterique Gilbert stepped up down the stretch as he poured in 16 points on 5-7 shooting over the last ten minutes.
Jalen Adams, Christian Vital Struggle
Dan Madigan: Two of UConn’s best guards had their worst performances of the season, and while Adams bounced back with a better second half, the Huskies won’t win any games this season where Adams and Vital both struggle. Adams and Vital scored just two points apiece in the first half as they struggled to get good looks on offense since they were a focal point of Florida State’s impressive defense. Adams rebounded with 13 more points on 4-13 shooting in the second half to give UConn a chance, but it was too little too late to grab a win. Vital finished with two points and wasn’t really a factor at all this game.
The Seminoles are one of the better defensive teams in the country, so this isn’t going to happen every night, but it was concerning to see how this team looks when Vital and Adams can’t get anything going offensively. The body language from them throughout the game certainly didn’t help things either.
Alterique Gilbert Shining
Madigan: While Adams and Vital struggled, Alterique Gilbert was impressive, scoring 24 points with three assists in his best game as a Husky. Gilbert did a little bit of everything, showcasing a devastating eurostep in transition and hitting some deep 3-pointers to pull the Huskies within seven with less than seven minutes to play.
Ten games in, it’s pretty obvious that Gilbert is both healthy and a really special player. He can adjust his game to match with what the Huskies need on a nightly basis. Against Lafayette, Gilbert dished out 11 assist with ease and helped set up players like Adams and Tyler Polley for numerous easy looks. In the matchup against FSU, Gilbert pulled his weight scoring when no one else could get going, shooting 4-6 from deep and taking (and making) shots in the clutch. He definitely still needs to work out some kinks and took some questionable shots early in the shot clock at points, but he showed tonight that he can step up and take control of the team when needed.