clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UConn men’s basketball knocks off Cincinnati in overtime, 72-71

The legend of James Bouknight continues as the Huskies grab a much-need overtime victory in an absolute thriller.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

After a season full of heartbreaking losses and bad bounces late, UConn finally got one to go its way as the Huskies grabbed a 72-21, overtime victory against Cincinnati in Gampel Pavilion on Sunday.

James Bouknight, who put together yet another tremendous performance with 23 points and four rebounds, drained two clutch free throws with just over a minute left in the extra period to put the Huskies up one. But Cincinnati still had a chance. Star guard Jarron Cumberland had the ball in his hands at the top of the key with a chance to win the game, and drew some contact from a defending Christian Vital, but time expired before a foul could be called.

For UConn, this was redemption for dozens of questionable calls that have gone against the Huskies this season and three excruciating overtime losses.

Bouknight wouldn’t have been in position to win the game without impressive efforts from Vital and Brendan Adams, who combined for nearly half of the Huskies’ points on 8-of-17 3-point shooting. In addition, Carlton had his most impressive rebounding game of the season. His 10 boards weren’t close to a career high, but he pulled down some very big contested rebounds and boxed out better than in any other game this year.

UConn started off the game slow, while it seemed like Cincinnati could not miss early on. The Huskies shot 1-of-7 in the first five minutes, while Cincy started out 5-6 from the field and led the Huskies 28-18 at the six-minute mark, powered by guard Keith Williams and Tre Scott, who had a combined 25 points in the first half.

But UConn stayed within striking distance thanks to gritty rebounding from Akok Akok and Isaiah Whaley. Down 28-18, the Huskies went on a 16-2 run that had them leading 34-30 at halftime.

Christian Vital and Brendan Adams hit two clutch threes each during that run, while James Bouknight had a pair of difficult shots, but it was powered by the one they call Pork Chop. Isaiah Whaley had three blocks in the first half, his most since the last game against Cncinnati.

Things stayed hotly-contested into the second half, when the intensity turned into physicality as Josh Carlton hooked center Chris Vogt by the arm and dragged him down. Later in the half, Christian Vital and Micah Adams-Woods were called for double technicals after a dust-up where Vital pushed Adams-Woods, and Adams-Woods complained to the ref.

Bouknight was relatively quiet in the first half before exploding for 17 in the second half and overtime. The game tightened up as the half went on, and UConn fans started to flash back to the countless heartbreaking losses suffered over the past season. Jarron Cumberland had the ball with the shot clock turned off in the final seconds of the first half, but was unable to put the Huskies away and was tangled up with Akok and Carlton as time expired.

This sent the game to overtime, which featured similar physical play to the previous half, right up to the Bouknight free throws and the Cumberland final shot. In the end the Huskies prevailed.

Riding the high of two straight wins over the best of the American Athletic Conference, the Huskies will next travel to Dallas on Wednesday, February 12th to take on SMU (16-6, 6-4) in a game that will be televised on ESPNews.