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Takeaways from UConn’s 65-53 loss to UCF

Another tough loss and weak second-half performance.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The UConn Huskies lost their third straight game to the Central Florida Knights 65-53 on Saturday afternoon. The Huskies fell to 9-6 on the season and 0-2 in AAC play. UConn has now lost four of its last six. Here are some takeaways:

Second half collapse

For the third-straight game, UConn embarrassingly collapsed in the second half. The Huskies scored just 11 points over the final 11 minutes and just 23 points total in the second half. The team had more turnovers than it had made field goals: 10 turnovers, eight field goals.

Alterique Gilbert scored just five points in the second half. Jalen Adams scored just three. Christian Vital was the lone bright spot with 13 points. Those three players alone accounted for 91 percent of the team’s second half scoring. UConn needs more on all fronts: its star players need to step up and the role players need to find ways to contribute.

Jalen Adams disappears

During the long stretches where it seems the team can’t buy a basket, one player needs to step up for the team. Jalen Adams, UConn’s best play-maker, failed to do so again. Adams finished with just eight points on the afternoon marking three out of his last five games that he failed to reach double-digit points. He shot under 30 percent in each of those three games. Adams’ inefficiency has been a back-breaker for UConn.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Devoid of play-makers

Pointing to the turnovers and poor shooting to explain UConn’s offensive struggles wouldn’t be looking deep enough. The rooted problem for the team is that it doesn’t have enough players that consistently create on offense. For long stretches of the game, the team can’t find open looks in the half court. The guards don’t create their own shots consistently and the forwards don’t do it at all.

UConn has looked eerily similar to teams of the Kevin Ollie regime with the hero-ball style of play. Head coach Dan Hurley implements offensive sets and there has been more movement this season, however there are periods of the game where UConn’s guards are playing one-on-one on the perimeter for far too long. The players would benefit from consistently running offensive sets to relieve the pressure of needing to beat a defender one-on-one every possession.

Time to play for next year?

Ahead of Saturday’s game with Central Florida, Dan Hurley suggested that the team is in a “weird area” between competing and deciding that the season is lost. With losses in four of its last six games and getting out-played in its first two games of AAC play, it may be getting late early for the Huskies.

With games against SMU and Cincinnati on deck, it would be wise of Hurley to continue to let the team compete against tougher competition before deciding to “completely [blow] it up”, to use Hurley’s verbiage.