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UConn continues to find different ways to grind out wins.
Some Huskies, including leading scorer Shabazz Napier, did little offensively.
Reserves Lasan Kromah (a season-high 12 points) and Niels Giffey (11 points) contributed to the attack. And junior DeAndre Daniels finally woke up in the second half, scoring 18 of his 21 points after intermission.
The result: No. 13 UConn 77, Loyola (Md.) 67.
“I am jumping with joy that we’re 7-0…,” coach Kevin Ollie said. “I like that we grind games out and know how to win in different styles.”
Here’s a post-game breakdown and video:
-- Check out the attached video of Ollie’s post-game press conference.
-- Kromah showed why he’s one of the most versatile players on the team. He scored in double figures for the first time this season and converted 5-of-8 field goals, including 2-of-4 3-pointers. He also had three rebounds, three assists, one steal and zero turnovers in 21 impactful minutes.
Defensivley, he helped contain Loyola leading scorer Dylon Cormier, who came in averaging 29.5 points per game. Cormier finished with 23 points, but had only six in the final 16-plus minutes.
“He’s just phenomenal…,” Ollie said. “He’s just all over the place. One thing I see is just his defensive effort. … He’s always getting his hands on the balls and deflecting balls and getting lay-ups.”
-- Napier had a relatively quiet night, finishing with a season-low four points on 2-for-7 shooting. He did contribute in other ways, chipping in seven rebounds, seven assists, a career-high tying three steals and three blocks.
-- Once again, freshman center Amida Brimah battled foul trouble. He had three blocks and two rebounds in eight minutes.
On the season, he has a team-high 24 blocks and a team-high tying 20 fouls.
Sophomore center Phil Nolan also had 20 fouls this season. He had a career-high tying eight points on Tuesday.
-- And, of course, rebounding was a problem for the Huskies.
Loyola was out-rebounded in its previous four games. The Greyhounds won the battle of the boards, 40-39. They had 20 offensive rebounds.
“I was surprised that we got 20 offensive rebounds,” Loyola coach G.G. Smith said. “We actually won the rebounding battle for the first time this year.
Daniels led UConn in rebounds for the third time this season, finishing with a season-high eight. Junior Ryan Boatright had a career-high eight.
Boatright (4.6) and Napier (7.7), two guards, are leading the team in rebounding through seven games.
“I think we’re a little too inconsistent in some aspects of the game like rebounding,” Boatright said. “When we go into a big game and rebounding is the key, we come out and emphasize rebounding. When we come out against a team like this, when we shouldn’t have any problems, we fall back.
“I think that will be a problem that will catch up with us.”
-- UConn never trailed after taking a 12-9 lead but also didn’t feel comfortable until the final few minutes. The Huskies led by 15 in the first half before the Greyhounds cut the gap to three early in the second half.
They’ve struggled to put teams away this season.
“We had some letdowns again,” Ollie said. “We’d get up 15 points, and we’d give the lead up. I want to get up 15 points and then I want to go up 25. I don’t want to go back down to five. And that’s how we’ve been playing in some of these games. Great teams don’t do that. And that’s what we aspire to be, a great team.”
-- Coach Smith on UConn: “They’re good. They’re deep. They’re just long and athletic. We had a problem during the second half matching up with that, and that really hurt us.”
-- UConn sophomore Omar Calhoun is in a shooting slump. After sinking 54 percent (14-for-26) in the first three games and averaging 11.7 points, he’s converted just 23 percent (6-for-26) and averaged 5.3 points in the last four games.
Calhoun had seven points on 2-for-6 shooting against Loyola.
-- Ollie on his team’s performance so far this season: “I’m proud of their effort. I’m just disappointed in the inconsistencies, especially with the rebounding. … But guys are playing hard. We held them to 35 percent shooting again. We shot over 50 percent. So, there are some positives, but also some negatives that we’ve got to continue to work on.”
-- The Huskies have hit at least 49 percent from the field this season in five out of seven games. They’ve held opponents to under 40 percent five times.
-- Up next: UConn hosts No. 15 Florida on Monday at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs. As of Monday, 23 pro scouts requested credentials to attend 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.