After Jalen Adams suffered an MCL injury in the first half, the UConn Huskies rolled over at the hands of the Temple Owls. UConn was already undermanned as Alterique Gilbert did not see the floor despite being dressed and participating in pregame warmups and the team was over-matched.
At fourth place in the AAC and a 17-6 record overall, Temple is firmly on the NCAA tournament bubble and figured to be a litmus test for UConn as it hoped to climb into the bubble conversation. Without Adams and Gilbert, the hope that the Huskies would turn the corner with a win at Temple fell dim.
Here are our takeaways:
Dan Madigan: Just a handful of minutes into the game, senior guard Jalen Adams exited with a knee injury and did not return. In the short term, I was certainly looking to see how he would respond to his second half benching against East Carolina, especially since he normally plays pretty well against Owls. Long term, if the initial diagnosis of an MCL sprain (or worse) is true, that could be the last glimpse of Adams in a UConn uniform.
Even though his time in Storrs has been up and down, he has put together some monster stretches and carried some truly terrible teams and climbed way up on UConn’s all-time leaderboards. If this is really the end, I think people will look back on his time more fondly, especially when the dust from the Kevin Ollie era settles.
Mike Sivo: This may (or may not) be the end for Jalen Adams, but what a ride his college career has been. It bothers me to wonder what more time under Dan Hurley might’ve done for him. That full court shot was unforgettable, and it led us to our only conference title and only tournament appearance in what feels like forever. So, hopefully his story in Storrs isn’t over yet.
First Half Struggles
Dylan Finer: Without Gilbert or Adams’ playmaking abilities, the UConn offense was especially stagnant in the first half. The Huskies were taking poor shots and it showed in its shooting percentage: UConn shot just 31 percent from the field in the first half. Credit should be given to Temple whose defense pressured the Huskies’ guards and made it difficult to find any rhythm offensively.
The Owls’ defense led to offense as the team pushed in transition and played at a pace that exceeded what UConn is capable of without its two best players. The Huskies sank into a 26-point hole by the time the half was over.
Megan Gauer: While the UConn offense struggled in the the first half, the defensive effort was even more dismal. The Huskies allowed Temple to shoot 62 percent from the floor and 46 percent from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes. Both of those percentages are well above the Owls’ season averages. UConn also had just one steal in the first half. Failing to get really any defensive stops allowed Temple to run away with this one early.
Carlton and Cobb Impress
DF: Josh Carlton and Eric Cobb’s play were two of the three positive performances on the night. Carlton cleaned up the offensive glass on his way to his second straight double-double. Cobb, who hasn’t scored in double figures since early December, finished with 13 points in 18 minutes. The front court presence hasn’t consistently been there for Connecticut this season, but this game marked its third-straight strong performance in its last three games.
MS: Carlton really showed out in the second half, continuing his strong run of recent play, despite a quiet first half (it was quiet for everyone, really). You can see clear improvements in his footwork, especially in traffic, and his improving court awareness and comfort posting up. I’m super excited for his upperclassman years.
Cobb provided strong minutes off the bench. Though he can be turnover-prone and sometimes weak defensively, he can occasionally make things happen with the ball in his hands offensively. He’s never been afraid of a challenge on the court, and that’s a great mentality.
MG: There aren’t a lot of bright spots in this loss, but the frontcourt play was one. Despite struggling to collect rebounds early on, the Huskies dominated on the glass with a 31-7 rebounding margin in the second half.
UConn didn’t have a single offensive rebound in the first half, but Carlton and Cobb combined for 11 of the team’s 15 second half offensive boards. Their presence on the offensive glass led to 16 second chance points, which helped get the offense going.
Dan Hurley’s Positivity
DF: A season that began with plenty of hope has seen that hope slipping away since the start of AAC play. UConn’s matchup with Temple was an opportunity to turn that trend around, but that bubble popped once Jalen Adams went down. Following a miserable first half, Dan Hurley found ways to keep his players engaged and remained animated on the sidelines. Hurley has a reputation as a “player’s coach” and he showed his stripes tonight as he coached until the final buzzer despite the blowout. He even took the blame for the loss in his post-game press conference noting that he didn’t have his team prepared to start the game.