It didn’t take long for UConn to put Houston away. In just about five minutes of basketball, they used their combination of stifling defense, transition offense, and deadly outside shooting to build a double-digit lead and never looked back. Despite not having Daniels, the offense looked fluid all game, even when Houston tried to use the zone. The front court was effective, using offensive put-backs and second chance points to build on their lead and the rebounding was terrific, out rebounding Houston by fifteen and it looked even more lopsided than that. This was probably the best overall game that they have played so far this year. Even though they were at home, to score so easily and to hold a team to just 43 points is amazing, especially in conference play.
Napier usually takes the first half to get others involved but with Daniels out, he was in attack mode from the get go. Hitting his first couple of jumpers, his confidence soared and he began playing a more north-south game which allowed him to get to the line. Only 4 of his 13 shots were from deep which is perfect. He is still getting a bit fancy with his passing and tends to lay off his man on defense, but his rebounding and transition game was outstanding.
Boatright had a bounce back game. His jumper was working, hitting 2 of 4 from deep, and he was taking much better care of the basketball. His only turnover was on a travel. He gambled a lot on defense and gave up a couple of open looks but also had 2 steals. Overall it was a solid night for him and one of his better games in awhile.
Giffey had one of his better games in awhile. Maybe it was because Daniels was out but he didn’t hesitate to shoot the ball and he couldn’t miss. He had an nice put-back, hit two 3-pointers, played solid defense, and had an amazing dunk on another put-back. This should’ve been the comeback game for Calhoun but he continues to struggle in mysterious ways. He missed a wide open lay-up, fouled on defense, and had a sloppy turnover. He did do a good job rebounding the basketball but it wasn’t the confidence builder he needed. Kromah had a hot start, knocking down 2 3-pointers and getting a steal, but disappeared down the stretch. Samuel got some much needed playing time. While he struggled with his jumper, he got to the line, rebounded, and had a few pretty assists. He needs to play a bit more controlled though.
UConn looked early to establish a paint presence and it paid off. While Brimah only made 2 of 7 from the field, he was active in the paint. He had a nice hook shot drop for him and had an offensive rebound that led to a dunk. Nolan had great game and had 2 lay-ups, 2 offense rebounds & put-backs, and added a sweet hook shot. He also rebounded the basketball much better and ended his night with 5 offensive rebounds. Olander struggled blocking out but had a nice hook shot and an offense rebound. Facey continues to make plays when given the opportunity. In just 16 minutes of play, he hit 3 of 6 from the floor and had 7 boards with 3 of those offense rebounds. While this unit will not become a truly finished project this season, their upside is tremendous.
Tolksdorf continues to play horse when he gets the ball, Watts does show a more controlled game, and Lenehan looks like your shy younger brother thrown a the YMCA.
UConn needed this type of performance because they are heading into a huge match-up against Cincinnati, who are play their best basketball of the season right now. They’ll need a front court contribution like they had today to even be in that game and a game like this one will give them some confidence heading in. This team is slowly coming together and with a performance like this one, it gives fans a glimpse at the potential of this team, but they haven’t been able sustain it at a consistent level. Hopefully they will be able to at just the right time because this team does have the pieces to be truly special.