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UConn is a surprising 7-2 heading into an exam break after beating Harvard, 57-49, Friday at Gampel Pavilion.
Nothing comes easy for these Huskies but they keep finding ways to win.
Sophomore DeAndre Daniels played the starring role, scoring a career-high 23 points. Sophomore Ryan Boatright finished with 16 points.
The Huskies were out-rebounded (27-20) for the eighth time in nine games. Their bench provided only eight points – all in the final 10 minutes. And they allowed Harvard to shoot 48.8 percent.
But they won, and that's all that really matters.
"Hopefully, we just continue to play like this and find a way to win," coach Kevin Ollie said.
Some news, notes and quotes from post-game:
-- Could Daniels become the third scoring option that UConn needs?
Time will tell.
Daniels had his best game despite playing with a sore lower back. He's been suffering from back spasms since the North Carolina State game on Tuesday.
Defenses are focusing on containing the backcourt of Shabazz Napier and Boatright. Daniels went 9-for-12 from the field and added four rebounds. He's the first non-guard to lead the Huskies in scoring.
"I can help them and take the load of them because everyone is going to be scouting us and trying to get us out of our game," Daniels said. "I just need to step up and help and get the load off of their back."
"He decided to play today," Ollie said. "And that's what DeAndre can do."
-- Ollie changed the starting lineup for the first time all season. Junior Enosch Wolf replaced junior Tyler Olander at center.
Wolf had four points and zero rebounds in 20 minutes. Olander had four points and two rebounds in 20 minutes.
"He had a couple of dunks, but I need more rebounds," Ollie said of Wolf.
Ollie added that the competition for starting center position remains open.
-- UConn forced a season-high tying 18 turnovers, leading to 22 points. The Huskies ties a season-low for points allowed.
"Our defense was great," Ollie said.
-- Napier had just six points but made a major impact on the game. He had season highs in assists (9), rebounds (7) and steals (4) in 38 minutes.
"I love passing the ball and getting rebounds and assists," Napier said. "I don't really care too much about scoring as long as my team wins."
He went scoreless in the first half and made his first basket with 7:40 left in the game. His 3-pointer came during a key 13-2 run that turned a tight 33-32 game into a 46-34 lead.
Ollie loved Napier's assist-to-turnover ratio (9 to 1).
"That's better than me," said Ollie, a former UConn and NBA point guard.
-- Ollie made a point to praise the season-high home crowd of 9,113 fans.
"Our sixth man – our crowd – was unbelievable. I definitely want to praise them."
-- Reserve guard R.J. Evans played just seven minutes. He fell hard on his bad right shoulder while hustling back to make a play on defense.
"I aggravated it a little bit," Evans said.
Evans will get an opportunity to heal up during the exam break.
-- The Huskies didn't receive a point from their bench until junior Niels Giffey scored off an alley-oop with 9:54 remaining in the game. He finished with four points in 21 minutes after scoring just two in the previous 49 minutes over two games.
-- Freshman guard Omar Calhoun has struggled lately. He went 0-for-6 from the field and had three turnovers. He has 15 turnovers in the last four games.
-- UConn is off until Monday, Dec. 17, when it hosts Maryland-Eastern Shore in Hartford.
-- Check out the attached video of Daniels who met with the media after the game.
Today’s American Athletic Conference Championship semifinal doubleheader is underway here at the XL Center in Hartford. A crowd in the 12,000-13,000 range is expected for the UConn-Tulsa game. Tip-off time is 5 p.m.