UConn defeats DePaul 82-62 despite double-double by Cleveland Melvin

The UConn Huskies defeated the DePaul Blue Demons today by a final score of 82-62.  UConn struggled for a while to put away the Blue Demons, but a big second half run pushed the lead to 30, and they coasted the rest of the way.

Kemba Walker led the way for the Huskies once again with 31 points.  Cleveland Melvin — that’s right, former UConn recruit Cleveland Melvin — posted a double-double for the Blue Demons with 25 points and 12 rebounds.

First, let me admit to being wrong about Cleveland Melvin.  While much of what I wrote during the recruiting period was based on his name, I never thought he’d turn into a good college player this quickly.  He seemed to be a project, not unlike former UConn players Hilton Armstrong or Gavin Edwards — guys that eventually turned into decent players, but not right away.  Melvin, on the other hand, is averaging about 14 points and 5 boards per game, in about 22 minutes per game.  More impressively, he’s averaging 23 points and 8 rebounds per game against Big East opponents, meaning that he’s really coming on strong.  He’s also shooting well over 50%.  Admittedly, this is the first time I’ve seen him play, but he looks as if he’s going to be a star.  It’s difficult not to wonder “what if” — a guy averaging 23 points per game in Big East play would have been a good addition — but who knows if all of the quick Jim Calhoun hooks would have held him back for a while.

Stating the obvious — when Walker is on, the Huskies are very good, and Walker was on tonight.  He was 10-17 from the field including a couple of pull-up jumpers in the middle of the fast break, and a heads-up reverse layup to close out the first half — he knew the clock was running out and banked it in just before the buzzer.

Tonight, Walker had decent support from Jeremy Lamb, who put up 13 points.  Alex Oriakhi finished with 11 points, after a very poor first half, when he might have had a couple of points and a couple of boards.  He continues to look very awkward on offense, though he is improving.  Roscoe Smith finished with 8 points and 7 boards, which led the Huskies, while Jamal Coombs-McDaniel kicked in with 7 points.

The biggest outburst of the game, though, came from Donnell Beverly, who hit two 3-pointers around a couple of Roscoe Smith free throws.  He was “instant offense” today.

Tyler Olander looked decent today — he didn’t put up big numbers, but seemed more confident than usual.

DePaul actually seems like they have some talent — they could start to surprise later in the season.  It’s really too bad that Mac Koshwal left early — this team would have a decent nucleus.


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