Huskies squeak by South Florida in OT, 66-61


The #3 ranked UConn Huskies pulled out a dramatic win over the South Florida Bulls last night, winning by a final score of 66-61 in overtime.

UConn trailed by as many as 9 in the second half before mounting a determined comeback, finally taking the lead with under 2 minutes to be go in regulation before South Florida tied the game with a late 3.  UConn had 30 seconds to hold the ball for a game-winning shot, but failed to convert.

Kemba Walker led all scorers with 24 points, and added 8 rebounds.  Overall, it was poor shooting night for Walker, who hit 7-18 overall and only 1-5 from beyond the arc.  Alex Oriakhi was the only other Husky in double figures with 15 points, but he contributed only 3 rebounds.

Augustus Gilchrist led the Bulls with 21 points and added 8 rebounds.

 

My take on the game:

 

This one looked pretty much like it belonged as a part of last season.  The Huskies jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead and looked as if they would put a mediocre Bulls team away early.  Instead, the Bulls scored the next 8 points and would take a 24-18 lead in the first half.  As was often the case last season, the Huskies weathered the storm early before coming back to tie the game at the home, only to have South Florida pull away in the second half.

As was also the case last season, the Huskies just seemed to have no awareness of time and situation.  Time after time in the second half as they crept closer they would take and miss and unwarranted 3-pointer, allowing the Bulls to continually pad their lead.  Really, they seemed to struggle in 3 areas:

  • Awareness.  Too many 3-point attempts at crucial times for a team that was about 1-11 at the time.
  • Rebounding.  UConn allowed South Florida to grab 2-3 offensive rebounds off of missed free throws – a cardinal sin.
  • Clutch free throws.  If you look at the stat sheet, you’d think I was crazy.  The Huskies finished 18-22 from the line, which is over 80%. But they missed two crucial front ends in a row, which nearly derailed the comeback. Kemba Walker was the culprit on one; Shabazz Napier on the other.

Really, this was a pretty ugly win at home over a mediocre at best South Florida team that is now 6-9.  Had the Bull shot better than 10-18 from the free throw line, they likely would have taken this game.

The Huskies really need to get better contributions from Roscoe Smith (39 minutes, 4 points, 1-8 shooting, 5 boards), Jeremy Lamb (20 minutes, 4 points, 1-6 shooting).  In fairness to Lamb, he has played pretty well recently.  Niels Giffey seems to have disappeared after looking like he was breaking out in Maui.  Tyler Olander continues to seem overmatched, though I believe he’s going to turn into a pretty good player.  Jamal Coombs-McDaniel contributed nothing early but finished the game strongly.

I still think this team is going to have a string of losses coming up in January. Young Jim Calhoun teams for some reason often struggle in January – we’ve all seen 5-6 game losing streaks – and I don’t think this team is going to be any different.  There is certainly talent there, and great coaching – but this team relies on too many freshman, and freshman tend to be inconsistent.

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