UConn started this game like it finished its previous one. They turned the ball over, gave up easy baskets around the rim, 2nd chance opportunities, and their jumpers weren’t dropping. They did remain aggressive and were getting to the line early, but weren’t making the most of those opportunities. Pittsburgh was able to get 18 points in the paint and 14 points on second chance shots, which gave them a comfortable double digit lead heading into the first half. As we have seen all year, this UConn team doesn’t quit. They came out of the gates scorching hot, hitting numerous jumpers that weren’t falling previously. Unfortunately their defense couldn’t get stops and to Pittsburgh’s credit, they answered every basket that UConn could produce early in the second half. The Huskies scratched and clawed their way back to tie up the ball game, but failed to make plays in the final two minutes to pull off the victory.
Napier was questionable with a sore shoulder that he suffered against Louisville, but it didn’t seem to effect him early, hitting a transition 3-pointer, but after that he struggled for much of the game. He had numerous bad passes and turnovers and rode the pine for much of the second half. When he came back in he made another 3-pointer but that was about it. It is amazing that this team was still in this ballgame with the sub-par play of Napier.
The main reason for UConn’s ability to remain in this game was the play of Boatright. He got to the line early when jumpers weren’t falling, something he has failed to do in previous games, took a charge, and hit a 3-pointer, but other than that his first half was a struggle with horrible turnovers with bad passes and he settled for deep 3-pointers. He was a different player in the second half though and hit an early floater, had a steal and dunk, and four lay-ups. He was able to probe the Pittsburgh defense and find ways to put the ball in the basket.
With Napier struggling, Omar Calhoun stepped up and played well. He hit the offensive glass early with a nice put-back, but he did most of his damage in the second half hitting three 3-pointers and getting a lay-up. It was nice to see him a bit more judicious with his shots and not shy away from his jumper when it wasn't dropping early. Evans struggled in this game, getting a bit too deep in Pittsburgh’s defense and turning the ball over. He did have a nice steal but it has been awhile since he has been able to get to the rim for lay-ups we were used to seeing from him.
Olander’s offense was working for him, hitting a floater and a nice jumper from the wing, but he was getting carved up by the pick and roll game and also was being pushed out of position on the glass. Wolf did worse on the glass, getting zero rebounds which is unacceptable. He did pick up two quick fouls that had him out for much of the first half, but his major concern is rebounding and even though he hit an elbow jumper, a 15-footer, and a turnaround, he is playing to far from the basket.
Daniels was aggressive early and was rewarded with trips to the line, but his jumpers weren’t falling for him and he was in foul trouble throughout the game. The major concern with Daniels is his inconsistency on the glass. He again couldn’t muster a single rebound. Giffey had problems holding onto the ball but did rebound well. He really needs to work on his landings on dunks. That’s twice he has nearly knocked himself out on dunking the basketball.
For the past two games, this team is struggling on consistency. The defense and offense only come together in stretches and for much of the game they are searching for effectiveness. It is still surprising that this team was in this game with Napier hitting only two shots, Daniels and Wolf getting zero rebounds, and taking 22 3-pointers. It is a testament to this team’s spirit. They aren’t going down without a fight and even though they aren’t a team that resembles a UConn squad of old, they have the same expectations, to win.