Post-game breakdown, video: Harvard

It sounds strange to put an early January game in the must win category.

But the Huskies did just that.

Coming off two straight losses, they badly needed to break out of their funk and beat a quality Harvard team.

They accomplished their mission, holding on for a 61-56 victory in their last non-conference game this season.

The victory washed out the sour taste from consecutive road losses to Houston and Southern Methodist in American Athletic Conference play. Harvard (13-2) had won nine straight.

“We needed this win very bad…,” junior DeAndre Daniels said. “Everyone on this team is competitive and nobody wants to lose. With those two losses in a row, definitely in the second one (against SMU), we had a lot of people sad. People had tears in the locker room.

“Everybody on the team wanted to win. It was a must win for us.”

Here’s a post-game breakdown and video:

-- Check out the attached video of coach Kevin Ollie’s press conference.

 -- Offensively, it was an ugly game. Neither team shot the ball well – UConn 40 percent and Harvard 35.7. The twoNew Englandprograms combined for 29 turnovers.

The Huskies had a clear edge at the foul line, sinking 17 of 25. The Crimson went 7-for-10.

“It wasn’t the best offensive game, but that doesn’t matter,” Ollie said. “We got a win. Now we’re focused on UCF and we’re going to try to get our first American win.”

UConn (12-3, 0-2) hosts Central Florida on Saturday inStorrs.

-- UConn got a break when Harvard leading scorer Wesley Saunders sat out the game with a sprained knee. Brandyn Curry replaced Saunders, converting only 2-of-12 shots and scoring seven points. He also threw the ball away in the closing seconds with his team trailing by three points.

 -- Graduate student Lasan Kromah played well in his first start, finishing with nine points, five rebounds, three assists and three turnovers in a season-high 34 minutes.

“I’ve definitely felt more comfortable,” Kromah said. “I’ve had a chance to be out there more, showcase what I can do, and really help the team out in more areas – rebounds, assists and everything.”

 -- Senior Shabazz Napier came alive in the second half, scoring 13 of his team-high 18 points. He buried consecutive 3-pointers to give UConn a 55-47 with one minute, 30 seconds remaining.

But he also fouled Laurent Rivard who made a 3-pointer and then hit the free throw to cap a four-point play with 35 seconds remaining.

He finished with seven rebounds, four assists, four turnovers and two steals in 39 minutes.

 --  For just the sixth time this season, UConn won the rebounding battle. The Huskies held a 36-34 edge. They’ve 6-0 when out-rebounding an opponent.

-- Another key: UConn took better care of the ball in the second half, committing only four turnovers. The Huskies had 11 in the first half.

 -- Daniels stated before the season started that he wanted to average double figures in rebounds. He tied a season-high with eight rebounds on Wednesday to increase his season average to 4.8 per game.

“DeAndre has to be a big rebounder for us,” Ollie said. “Eight rebounds should be his minimum. … He can do it once he focuses on it.”

Daniels also had 11 points and a career-high tying four blocks in 33 minutes.

 -- Ollie praised the play of freshman center Amida Brimah. Before fouling out in only 15 minutes of play, he had three blocks and four rebounds and was a defensive pest under the basket.

On the season, Brimah has 37 fouls, 37 points and 31 rebounds.

 -- Sophomore Omar Calhoun looks lost on the court. He played a career-low five minutes and didn’t attempt a shot from the field or free throw line. It is the second time in three games that he has failed to score.

This is the same guy who averaged 11 points last season and made the All-Big East rookie team.

 -- Junior Ryan Boatright (14 points) has scored in double figures in a season-high five straight games.

 -- Napier on the win: “We really just needed to get back on track in the sense of playing the way we usually play.”

 -- UConn won for the first time this season when behind at half, rallying from a 31-26 deficit. The Huskies have trailed just one other time – 46-28 at Houston on Dec. 31. They lost, 75-71.

 -- The Huskies received a season-low four points from their bench. Senior Niels Giffey had all four points.

 -- Ollie likes the way UConn responded to adversity on Wednesday. The Huskies kept playing hard even when they struggled.

“Our recovery is getting better,” Ollie said. “Down in Houston, we couldn’t recover in a couple of instances, but we recovered tonight.”


Reader Comments


Post-game breakdown: Columbia

UConn coach Kevin Ollie saw it coming.He really did.

Pre-game preview: Columbia

UConn has only four non-conference games remaining this season.

Huskies spreading holiday cheer

The UConn basketball team will participate in Kevin Ollie's Christmas for Hartford's Children in the city's Blue Hills Neighborhood on Saturday.

Post-game breakdown: Duke

UConn's offense is in serious need of a tune-up.The Huskies sputttered their way to just 56 points on Thursday night at the Izod Center.

Pre-game preview: Duke

Tonight’s game pits the defending national champion against a serious national championship contender.UConn is a decisive underdog.

UConn-Duke connections

Let’s talk UConn-Duke connections.The Huskies (4-3) and undefeated Blue Devils (9-0) renew their rivalry Thursday night in East Rutherford, N.J.

Post-game breakdown: Coppin State

Not sure if Sunday afternoon’s shootout made UConn basketball fans feel better or worse about their Huskies.

Pre-game preview: Coppin State

UConn needs a bounce back game in a big way today.Coppin State hasn't beaten a Division I team so far this season.

Post-game breakdown: Yale

Coach Kevin Ollie delivered a blunt assessment of his basketball following a second straight last-second loss.Yale 45, UConn 44.

Pre-game preview: Yale

It seems like an eternity since UConn last lost to an in-state foe.You have to go back to 1986.

Boatright in a rush to return, and other UConn news

Senior Ryan Boatright is not 100 percent healthy.

Injury updates on Boatright, Purvis, Calhoun

UConn sent along some injury updates today.

Post-game breakdown, video: Texas

UConn saw its 44-game non-conference winning streak at Gampel Pavilion end in stunning fashion on Sunday.

Pre-game preview: Texas

Here at Gampel Pavilion for showdown between No. 24 UConn and No. 7 Texas.

Ollie lifts suspensions, plus more UConn news

Some UConn basketball news from Friday: