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Post-game breakdown, video: Marquette

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: theday.com

Published February 18. 2012 5:17PM   Updated February 18. 2012 7:47PM

Here's a startling statistic: UConn hasn't won two straight games in over a month.

No. 12 Marquette is the latest Big East team to pin a loss on the Huskies.

Final: 79-64.

Once again, UConn played well in spurts but continues to show a lack of focus and effort at times.

The Huskies (16-10, 6-8) just can't compete against the Big East elite.

Sophomore Jeremy Lamb had 19 points and seven rebounds while sophomore Shabazz Napier had 11 points and eight assists and junior Alex Oriakhi had 10 points.

Here's your post-game rundown:

-- Napier had some strong words for his teammates after the game.

"At the end of the game, I told the guys, `I got to question a lot of you guys' heart…,' " Napier said. "I told the guys the only reason I'm speaking out is because I'm a captain."

Napier also talked about some individual players, including sophomore Tyler Olander.

"I think a lot of guys don't know how well they can be," Napier said. "For example, Tyler. He can be really good for the team. He can knock that mid range shot down. I don't think any other big can shoot like him. He gets out there and he plays timid.

"…. We don't understand why."

Napier believes the Huskies miss coach Jim Calhoun who sat out his fifth straight game due to a medical leave of absence.

"It sucks not having coach because he's the guy that would get in people rather than me. I'd rather him get at people because he's more severe.

"I tell these guys, if I'm yelling at you, I'm yelling at you. If coach Calhoun is yelling at you, there's two things that he can do: He can get in you or sit you on the bench.

"With me, I can just get in you. Guys take it more personally with me than coach. … Sometimes I don't understand why guys take my words so heavy rather than his words."

More on Napier's comments in my game story.

-- UConn had no answer for seniors Darius Johnson-Odom (24 points) and Jae Crowder (a career-high tying 29 points). They are the best duo in the Big East.

"You can't quantify the heart and the brains that those two seniors are playing with," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said.

UConn associate head coach George Blaney compared Crowder, who also had 12 rebounds, to former Husky standout Caron Butler.

"He's just a very good player," Blaney said.

-- The bonehead play of the game belonged to UConn freshman Ryan Boatright.

After UConn roared back from a 14-point halftime deficit to cut the gap to four (48-44), Boatright was called for a technical foul. He was caught do a little trash-talking to Marquette's Todd Mayo.

"I don't know," Blaney said when asked what happened. "(The official) did (give me an explanation), but I'm not going to tell you."

The play changed the momentum back in Marquette's favor. Johnson-Odom hit two free throws and Crowder made a 3-pointer for a five-point play.

"I had no idea what happened, but it was a huge play in the game," Lamb said.

-- Shoddy perimeter defense continues to haunt the Huskies.

Marquette converted 10-of-22 three-pointers. The Golden Eagles are the sixth opponent to sink 10 or more from beyond the arc. The Huskies are 2-5 in those games.

"We're giving up threes too easily," Blaney said.

-- Here's something that you don't see very often: a visiting team taking more free throws than UConn.

Marquette went 21-for-26 from the line and UConn 12-for-21.

Blaney voiced his displeasure in his usual understated manner.

"We're a team that doesn't foul and they shot 26 fouls," Blaney said. "Most of the time we're in the top two or three in the country in fewest fouls committed. It seemed to me that wasn't the way it happened."

-- A sluggish start hurt UConn.

Undersized Marquette controlled the boards and ran a torrid fast break while rolling to a 43-29 halftime lead.

The Golden Eagles had 11 of their 13 fast break points and a 20-13 rebounding advantage before intermission.

"Marquette did a really good job, especially in the first half, of running the court," Blaney said. "Their speed and strength almost blew out doors off. We had worked on it for two days, were really solid about picking up the ball early and getting back, but their bigs continued to beat our guys down the court."

The Huskies made the necessary adjustments in the second half, holding a 17-13 rebounding edge and nearly erasing transition points.

-- With Oriakhi and Andre Drummond on the bench with two fouls apiece in the first half, Blaney turned to little-used sophomore Enosch Wolf.

Wolf, who's played a total of seven minutes this season, looked a bit lost. He missed three shots, including a layup, and grabbed a rebound before leaving the game after just three minutes.

Sophomore Roscoe Smith replaced Wolf.

-- The Huskies fell to 2-5 against ranked teams this season. They have one more top 25 team on their regular season schedule in No. 2 Syracuse (Feb. 25).

-- UConn is working hard to try to secure a commitment from Chris Obekpa, a 6-foot-9 big man out of Our Savoir New American in Centereach, N.Y. Other schools recruiting him include Cincinnati, DePaul, Providence, St. John's, Georgetown and Memphis.

Obekpa attended Saturday's game on an unofficial visit. UConn hopes to line up an official visit this season.

-- Next up: a road trip to Villanova on Monday. Calhoun will miss that game, too.

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