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Post-game breakdown, video: Providence

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: theday.com

Published February 29. 2012 4:00AM   Updated February 29. 2012 10:29AM

Didn't think it could get much worse, did you?

Well, it did on Tuesday night.

NCAA tournament worthy teams don't blow a 14-point lead with 12:30 remaining against one of the worst teams in the Big East.

Providence rallied for a 72-70 win at the Dunk.

"We keep kicking away opportunities," associate head coach George Blaney said.

The Huskies (17-12, 7-10) will finish with a losing Big East record for the second time in three seasons. They went 7-11 in 2009-10 and went to the NIT.

This team looks like it is NIT-bound, too.

UConn closes the regular season Saturday against Pittsburgh in Storrs.

The Friars are 15-15, 4-13.

Some news, notes and quotes from an ugly and damaging loss:

-- Let's start with this: The Huskies are a soft team.

They're soft mentally and physically.

Faced with adversity, they crumbled, allowing the Friars to go on a 26-5 run.

"They made a run and we didn't come together," sophomore Jeremy Lamb said.

The Friars out-hustled and out-rebounded (41-37) the Huskies who also lost focus on defense, especially on the perimeter.

PC had 17 offensive rebounds.

"I didn't like the way we allowed that to happen," Blaney said of the offensive rebounds.

-- UConn entered the game ranked last in the Big East in field goal percentage defense. And they showed why against the Friars who went 10-for-21 from 3-point land. Sophomore Bryce Cotton went 5-for-9 while scoring 16 of his 22 points in the second half.

Providence became the eighth team this season to sink 10 or more from beyond the arc. UConn's record in those games is 2-6.

-- Four Huskies scored in double figures – Andre Drummond (14 points), Ryan Boatright (13), Lamb (12) and Roscoe Smith (11).

Lamb shot 5-for-15 from the field and went long stretches without scoring. Drummond had only two points in the second half after dunking his way to 12 points by halftime.

UConn basically stopped going inside after the first five minutes of the second half and settled for jump shots.

Not a sound strategy.

"We were trying to get Jeremy coming off the screens…," Blaney said. "I thought we didn't run much in the second half… And we also didn't make a couple of shots when we got it inside."

The Friars used both man and zone defenses.

-- Think official Rogers Ayers went a little too far calling a technical foul on Drummond.

After earning a well-deserved foul for throwing an elbow, a frustrated Drummond put a little something extra on his pass to Ayers.

Ayers immediately called the technical with 5:07 remaining and UConn trailing 59-56. It turned out to be a four-point play as Cotton made two foul shots and Kadeem Batts hit a short jumper. The play capped a 19-2 run.

"I guess he wasn't looking so it looked like a cheap shot," Drummond said. "It's part of the game. I'm not going to complain about the refs and how they officiate the game."

The official told Blaney that Drummond threw the ball too hard to him.

"I said, `it's Andre Drummond. … He doesn't know how to do that. He's too nice a person.' I can't imagine that was intentional."

-- Three Friars played the entire game – Vincent Council (nine points, 11 assists), Gerard Coleman (13 points, seven rebounds) and Cotton (22).

Freshman LaDontae Henton (18 points) delivered two of the game's biggest shots, burying back-to-back three-pointers. His second one just beat the shot clock, handing PC a 69-61 lead with one minute left.

"I had my hand in his face and he knocked the shot down," Drummond said. "That's a big time shot right there."

-- Future Friar Kris Dunn sat behind the Providence bench. Dunn, the New London High School star and McDonald's All-American, watched Drummond, his former AAU teammate and close friend, play a college game for the first time.

Drummond paid tribute to Dunn by pointing to him after scoring a basket in the first half.

-- UConn hopes to have coach Jim Calhoun back on the sidelines Saturday against Pittsburgh. After having successful back surgery on Monday, Calhoun was released from a New York City hospital Tuesday and returned home to continue his recovery period. He'll be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.

Calhoun has missed eight games because of spinal stenosis, a lower back condition. The Huskies are 3-5 without him.

-- Coming off a scoreless performance in Saturday's loss to No. 2 Syracuse, Napier was only a bit more active on the offensive end. He took just four shots and finished with seven points. He also had eight assists and just two turnovers.

-- UConn has blown bigger leads this season than 14 points. Central Florida rallied from a 17-point deficit with 17 minutes remaining for a 68-63 win on Nov. 25.

-- The Huskies have dropped nine of their last 12 games. In 2012, they are 5-11.

-- Streak-buster: UConn had been 12-0 this season when scoring 70 or more points.

-- Smith has a habit of using hockey terms to describe college basketball teams.

"Providence has a great organization," Smith said. "They have a very talented team."

-- One last parting shot from Lamb: "We've just got to get some confidence and play together."

Not a lot of faith that is going to happen this season for the Huskies. They haven't won two straight since mid-January.

-- Check out the attached video of Blaney's press confernce. Sorry for the shaky video. Tried to write and take video at same time.

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