UConn men’s basketball delivered a complete performance in a convincing win over DePaul, 82-61, at Gampel Pavilion Wednesday. The win gave UConn its first Big East victory since 2013’s season-ending triumph against Providence.
The team’s energy throughout the game was the best it's been all year, perhaps the hundreds of fan and former player cutouts peppered through the stands gave them a spark.
The Huskies (4-1, 1-1 Big East) held DePaul to just 23.5% from three-point range after the Blue Demons shot 45.5% in their first two games. UConn shot 42.1% in return, markedly better than the 30.9% they were shooting at coming into Wednesday’s game. The Huskies were much better from the field (49% vs. 38%) and five different players hit a three, including two from Martin and Brendan Adams.
“If you’re a high-level defensive team you’re going to have a chance to win every night you step on the floor,” Hurley said.
In his third start with the program, URI-transfer Tyrese Martin led the Huskies in scoring. He put up 22 points on 9-15 shooting with a pair of threes and 10 boards in 31 minutes and threw down a vicious two-handed jam seven minutes into the second half. It was the first time a player not named James Bouknight led the Huskies in scoring.
Bouknight still drove the offense Wednesday night as he scored 20 points on 6-13 shooting. He had his own mega-jam right after Martin’s that would have absolutely caused a full Gampel Pavilion to erupt.
The first half was nowhere near pretty, but UConn was strong enough defensively to keep DePaul’s shooting at bay (20% from deep) while hitting 62.5% of its own threes.
Martin and Josh Carlton were the enforcers UConn needed in the first half as they combined for 13 points and 11 boards. Bouknight struggled to get free in the early going, as he scored five of his nine first-half points from free throws, but he picked it up in the second half.
UConn slowly padded the lead across the second half, looking much more fluid as it secured the victory. DePaul did not lead at any point in the game and didn’t threaten much even when the Huskies slipped a bit toward the end.
This was some of the most cohesive basketball UConn has played this season, which is impressive considering they hadn’t played a competitive game in 10 days in a game that came after a 17-day break. They finished with 21 points off of turnovers but allowed just nine to DePaul, despite both teams giving the ball away 16 times.
UConn will play Marquette in Milwaukee on Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. on FS1 in the first of three consecutive road games for the Huskies.