Jalen Adams scored 31 points on 50 percent shooting, Josh Carlton reached a new career high with 18 points, and Christian Vital’s scored 18 and eclipsed the 1,000 point mark as a milestone game for many Huskies led UConn above Tulane 87-71 on Saturday afternoon.
With the game rescheduled to the early afternoon due to approaching winter storms, neither team was in its comfort zone, especially because both were missing important contributors with injuries. UConn (11-8, 2-4 American) used a consistent, aggressive offense to their advantage, creating chances at will even without the benefit of free throws.
Tulane (4-13, 0-5 AAC) seemingly thrived with the shortened rotations, as the Green Wave’s bench outscored the Huskies’ 24-6. The UConn starters, though, were seemingly unstoppable, shooting 65 percent from inside the arc and a 40.9 percent rate from three.
As usual, the Huskies came out firing, scoring 13 points before the first official timeout. The Huskies offense rolled through the early first half, only letting up when the starters were on the bench. The free-flowing offense, with plenty of fast breaks and early shots, was exactly what UConn needed, in marked contrast to the slower pace of previous AAC games.
The defense was less consistent early on, but still productive, keeping Tulane in single digits for nine minutes. The Huskies blocked several shot attempts in the early period en route to holding the Green Wave to just 14.3 from the 3-point line.
The UConn second team struggled in the first half, and when a unit with only one of Dan Hurley’s starters was on the floor, Tulane went on a 6-0 run to get the game back within 10. The return of the starting unit didn’t alleviate the pressure that Tulane’s newly-found offensive production put on the defense, as Tulane cut what was a big UConn lead to five with seconds to go before halftime.
The Huskies led 37-30 at the break, thanks to an Adams elbow jumper right before the buzzer. The early runs did not turn into forward momentum, though UConn outplayed Tulane in the first half. While the turnover issues were not recurring (three giveaways in the first half), the ball movement took a hit as a result; the team had only three first-half assists, and Adams alone attempted 15 shots in the frame.
Porous defense from the Huskies gave the Green Wave the opportunity to get within one possession early in the second half, but an Adams and-one gave his team a little breathing room. A sloppy stretch of offense from both teams prevented either team from making an impact over the next few minutes, but UConn ended its drought first, breaking out with an 11-0 run that put the Huskies up by 16.
Tulane wasn’t able to withstand the UConn hot streaks, and couldn’t recover from a big deficit with the increased pressure of the second half. Hurley, unhappy with his team’s play on two consecutive possessions, called a timeout with just over four minutes left. UConn was up 17 at the time. Tulane did not get within single digits again, even in garbage time.
Caleb Daniels led the Green Wave with 21 points, and Samir Sehic and Blake Paul each added 13. Tulane hosts UCF on Wednesday night.
Alterique Gilbert also scored a dozen for the Huskies, as his efficiency was only surpassed by Vital’s and Carlton’s, the latter of which missed only one shot all game. The win improved UConn’s record against Tulane to 7-0 all-time.
The Huskies have a week off before hosting Wichita State at Gampel next Saturday.