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NCAA Tournament First Round Recap: UConn men’s basketball dropped by Maryland, 63-54

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A season that showed a lot of promise ends in disappointing fashion in the first round.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Maryland at Connecticut IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports

UConn men’s basketball laid a pretty bad egg in its NCAA Tournament First Round matchup. After making a first-half run, the 10-seed Maryland Terrapins were in complete control and fended off a couple of UConn spurts to hold on for a 63-54 win.

The Huskies played about 16 minutes of competitive basketball but unfortunately, they were absolutely dominated for the rest of that time.

UConn shot 32% on the night and was even worse in the first half, and equally bad from behind the arc, going 7-23 (30.4%). Maryland’s Eric Ayala went off and the Huskies looked flat on both sides of the ball and the free-throw line, where they went 5-for-12 and missed some key opportunities to get back in the game.

The first 13 minutes were, as many predicted, an ugly grind-it-out contest. Maryland held a small lead most of the way before James Bouknight emerged from an 0-4 start with seven points and a Jalen Gaffney banked three put the Huskies ahead 19-18.

From that moment, however, UConn hit just one more shot in the half, missing 15 others. Layups weren’t going in and even though the Huskies were pulling in a ton of offensive boards, their shot selection was suspect all night, too often settling for threes.

Ayala started off on fire, scoring 14 of his 23 points in the first half, as the Terps pulled away and took a 33-22 lead into the break.

The second half was more of the same. UConn pulled within single digits with about seven minutes left and got within five at one point, but turnovers and bad shot selection, along with missed free throws, continued to ail them in the disappointing loss. Bouknight finished with 15 points but was 1-6 from three and 2-6 from the charity stripe in what may have been his last game in a UConn jersey.

The highlight of the presumptive lottery pick’s night was this rolling layup.

The Huskies’ season ends with a 15-8 record that won’t tell the full picture of what this team accomplished. They’re currently ranked 18th in KenPom and will finish the season with their highest national ranking since 2014. The future is bright for the Huskies, but a talented team couldn’t make much happen this year in March, unfortunately.

Thanks to everyone for reading our men’s hoops coverage here on The UConn Blog! We’ll have some post-game stuff tomorrow, and then start thinking about breaking down the season that was and thoughts about the program’s future. Recruiting will also pick up this summer, so keep an eye out for that.