Rip's return and post-game breakdown, video: SMU

Not much to say about UConn’s performance today.

The Huskies just had a bad offensive game.

SMU’s smothering defense was the difference. The Mustangs packed the lane, limited transition opportunities and pressured the backcourt of Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier into bad shots and turnovers.

No. 21 UConn (21-6, 9-5) shot a season-low 29.6 percent in a 64-55 loss.

“We won’t shoot like this ever again, hopefully,” coach Kevin Ollie said.

Here’s a post-game breakdown and video:

-- Check out the attached video of former UConn great Richard "Rip" Hamilton talking about the 1999 national championship team.

The 1999 title team and point guard Khalid El-Amin were inducted into the Huskies of Honor during a halftime ceremony. All five members of the starting five – El-Amin, Hamilton, Kevin Freeman, Ricky Moore and Jake Voskuhl -- attended the event.

Hamilton had never attended a game in Gampel until Sunday. He can’t believe it’s been 15 years since the Huskies won their first title. He vowed not to wait so long before coming back for a visit.

“I’m just excited to be here…,”Hamilton said. Here is special. There’s nothing like playing on campus.”

Hamilton, who has three young kids, thought El-Amin looked the same as he did during their playing days together.

“Didn’t he come into college looking like he was 28 years old already?”Hamiltons aid.

--  An NBA veteran and three-time all-star, Hamilton, 36, looks great. He’s on the sidelines right now, hoping to join a contending NBA team for the stretch run.

SMU coach Larry Brown, who had Hamilton on his Detroit team that won the NBA championship, the former Husky can help a team.

“I’ve been calling people about signing him, because he’s never been out of shape a day in his life,” Brown said. “Coach Calhoun’s guys are so competitive, except for Emeka (Okafor). Emeka is just a talent and the greatest guy and fun to be around.

“But he’s not one of those guys that grew up wanting to play every second and every game. But Rip wants to be great. He’s such a fierce competitor. I can’t believe he’s not playing for somebody.”

-- Napier looked uncomfortable throughout the game. He didn’t score his first points until just over four minutes left in the first half. He converted just five of 16 shots and finished with 15 points and also had five of UConn’s 16 turnovers.

Nick Russell’s, an athletic 6-foot-4 guard, made life miserable for Napier.

“We have as good a defensive guard as there is in the country in Nick Russell,” Brown said. “And we have some length behind him.”

In the last two games, Napier’s shooting 29.6 percent (8-for-27).

-- Brown and former UConn coach Jim Calhoun are both in the Hall of Fame.

Before the game, Brown waved hello to Calhoun, who sat on the sidelines.

“I’m happy to see him here,” Brown said. “He gave me a half-ass wave. I know how competitive he is.”

 -- SMU (22-6, 11-4) improved to 4-1 against top 25 teams and strengthen its post-season resume.

 -- The Huskies came into the game with 13-0 record when out-rebounding an opponent.

Make that 13-1 now. They won the rebounding battle, 36-31. Freshman Amida Brimah and junior DeAndre Daniels shared the team high with eight rebounds apiece.

-- The loss basically pushed UConn out of contention for the regular season title. The Huskies reside in fifth place.

 -- UConn took over just over six minutes to score its first basket of the game and never led.

Boatright: “The crowd is supposed to stand up until we make our first basket. It felt like they were standing up forever.”

 -- Calhoun on UConn’s national championship win: “I always thought we were more experienced and we were tougher. … We were just really good.”

 -- Up next: UConn visits South Florida on Wednesday.

 

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