AAC struggles continue for Huskies
Dallas - UConn is 0-2 in conference play for the first time since 1989-90. That was in the Big East. This is in the American Athletic Conference.
Huskies coach Kevin Ollie expressed frustration but determination that he will try whatever he can to reverse his team's early fortunes in the American.
"We've got to come together," Ollie said after the No. 17 Huskies lost to SMU 74-65. "We've got to go back to the drawing board, try to beat Harvard (at home on Wednesday). We've got to do something quick."
If history means anything, those 1989-90 Huskies regrouped to finish second in the Big East and reached the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight, losing in overtime to Duke.
On Saturday, SMU's Nic Moore scored 20 points and Nick Russell added 14 as the Mustangs (11-3, 1-1) defeated a ranked opponent for the first time since December 2003.
SMU shot 47.2 percent, including 53.6 percent in the second half when it outscored the Huskies 42-32. The Mustangs outrebounded the Huskies 37-29.
UConn opened league play with a 75-71 loss at Houston on New Year's Eve, a game in which the Huskies trailed by as many as 21 points during the first half yet had a chance to tie the score in the closing seconds.
Ryan Boatright had 15 points for the Huskies on Saturday while Shabazz Napier and Lasan Kromah had 12 points each and DeAndre Daniels added 11.
Boatright scored nine points in the first half but picked up his second and third fouls early in the second half and went to the bench.
The Huskies got off to an 18-13 lead after 7 minutes but relinquished the lead for good in the opening minute of the second half.
"We were executing our offense and getting stops on the defensive end," Boatright said. "They made their run because we missed three offensive rebounds on free throws. It all came down to rebounding once again."
Napier, coming off a 27-point performance at Houston, was held to two points and one field goal attempt in the first half.
Ollie said Napier - who went into the game leading UConn in scoring, rebounding and assists - was giving up shots for passes too often during the first half.
"I want him to be Shabazz; I want him to be an All-American," Ollie said. "He was making great passes, and they were going through their hands. You can't blame him for that, but he needs to understand we need him scoring. I think he got a little discouraged at some of the guys missing shots. But you've got to keep making the right play, and that's what he did."
SMU went ahead 47-41 on a bank shot by Ben Moore with 11:36 left. The Mustangs went on a 6-1 run to go up 63-51 with 4:04 left.
SMU came into the game ranked second nationally in field goal defense (35.7 percent) and held UConn to 36.7 percent shooting instead well below its season average of 47.2 percent.
SMU rode the momentum of an energized home crowd to a 7-2 lead in the early minutes before UConn used an eight-point run to move ahead 18-13 with 8:18 remaining.
The Mustangs countered to build their largest lead of the half at 30-24 4 minutes before halftime on the fourth 3-pointer of the half by Moore. But UConn, after uncharacteristically missing its first five 3-point attempts, hit two in the final 4 minutes of the half. That included Boatright's with 4 seconds remaining that gave the Huskies a 33-32 lead.
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