There are deep problems at UConn. They just can’t stop teams from raining threes on them and it cost them another game. Cincinnati scored 33 of their 70 points from beyond the arc. While most of those shots were well defended, UConn was caught a multitude of times over helping and left wide open shooters that didn't miss. The lack of backcourt depth was also evident in this game. Lamb and Napier looked tired at times and settled for easy shots early in the shot clock, but it was the total lack of help from the frontcourt that cost UConn this game. They only had 6 points from Drummond and Oriakhi and that puts way too much pressure on Lamb and Napier to score. Unfortunately this will be the game where they look back and wished they had. They need to defend home court and they didn't.
Lamb had a hard time getting free on screens all game, which he had been doing better as of late. He did hit a jumper, a floater, and a 3-pointer in the first half, but also had a bad pass, a turnover, and played bad defense & gave up a 3-pointer. In the second half, Lamb had a lay-up, an offensive rebound & floater, and was fouled on a 3-pointer. But it wasn’t enough and UConn could’ve used a more aggressive Lamb, especially when they were in the bonus so early in the first half. He needs to figure out ways to get free and get touches because the offense needs to go through him and it didn't for long stretches of this ballgame.
With no one stepping up, it was up to Napier to make plays and he almost single handedly pulled out the victory. He had a goal-tended lay-up, a steal & 1, two lay-ups, and a step-back jumper in the first half. He stepped it up in the second half with a fade away jumper, another jumper, and heated up down the stretch with three 3-pointers. He did have five turnovers with some of those coming with being over aggressive and going a bit too fast, but without anyone else stepping up it is hard to point any fingers in his direction, especially when he runs through two offensive sets and no one is free to get the ball.
Drummond took a step back in this game and couldn’t find a way to attack the rim in the half court sets. He did have a couple of dunks in the second half on transition or put-backs, but he had little impact offensively and tended to go up weak or rush things. Oriakhi didn’t do much better. He did have a nice offensive rebound and dunk in the first half but that was about it. He missed three turnaround jumpers, a 15-footer, and a dunk. Olander had a lay-up and was over matched defensively. With the smaller Cincinnati line-up, UConn’s bigger frontcourt should’ve had a huge impact on this game and they just didn’t show up. The only bright spot was that they did a pretty good job defensively and on the boards.
Daniels played bad defense in the first half and didn’t get much playing time after that. Smith had an offensive rebound & dunk, a lay-up, and was fouled three times, but it wasn’t enough to contain the perimeter shooting of Cincinnati. Giffey was the only pleasant surprise from the wing position. He had a hook shot off the glass, two 3-pointers, a lay-up, and rebounded much better. He was also the best overall defender on the perimeter. It was good to see his progression this year. Allen came off the bench and had a beautiful lay-up on the baseline.
UConn needs to put this game behind them. They ran up against another hot shooting team but unlike other games, they played good defense. They showed heart, came back and nearly stole this game with only two starters and a bench player contributing offensively. They’ll have to dust themselves off because they have a tough road test against a non-conference foe in Tennessee. Tip your cap to the Bearcats, they are playing really well and played out of this world from deep. Hopefully this hot streak from deep doesn't continue and UConn's front court figures things out, because if they don't then it is going to be a ugly rest of the month.
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