Purvis steps up in clutch
Gainesville, Fla. - Rodney Purvis sat for a long stretch in the second half watching Saturday's drama unfold.
He didn't sulk or put down his head. He patiently waited for another chance.
When he finally re-entered the game, he played one of the starring roles in a stirring come-from-behind 63-59 win over Florida.
Purvis buried three 3-pointers in the final seven and a half minutes, including the go-ahead basket with 3:25 remaining.
"He came in and made some big time threes," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said.
Purvis scored nine of his 11 points in the second half. He went 3-for-5 from 3-point land overall.
The Huskies improved to 4-0 when the North Carolina State transfer hits double figures.
"I just knew I had to make an impact," Purvis said. "We were in a tough situation in the game. I just knew eventually my time would come so I stayed with it on the bench and cheered for my teammates."
Purvis had a bumpy first half, going just 1-for-5 from the field and scoring two points in 11 minutes.
Ollie pulled him with 17:44 remaining and UConn trailing 42-31. He came back in with eight minutes left and the deficit at seven.
Purvis admitted that he couldn't have dealt with sitting out earlier this season. "I would have been done," he said. "It just shows a sign of progress I made, just to stay in the game. I know I can help this team a lot."
Senior Ryan Boatright wasn't his usual explosive self playing with a bruised left thigh. He hadn't practiced for two days leading up to the game.
Boatright displayed his trademark toughness, playing 39 minutes. He finished with a team-high 14 points, six rebounds and six assists.
"I didn't want to take him out so it would get stiff," Ollie said. "He still gutted it out."
He decided before the game that he could give it a go and never felt comfortable. He went just 2-for-11 from the field but made eight of nine free throws, including four in the final 32.4 seconds.
"I just couldn't get any lift," Boatright said. "I was a step slower on a lot of moves and I couldn't get off the ground like I wanted to. That's why I missed a lot of runners, layups and floaters that are normally cash money, but I just tried to contribute in every other way."
Junior center Amida Brimah was an intimidating factor on the defensive end down the stretch and helped prevent the Gators from scoring inside.
With UConn down by 53-51, Brimah swatted away Michael Frazier's driving attempt. Purvis buried a 3-pointer on the other end for UConn's first lead of the game, 54-53.
"We just needed a little bit of paint protection," Brimah said. "After those blocks, they just stopped coming in the paint."
When informed that he was credited with two blocks overall, he responded: "I had two blocks? What the hell. I did not get two blocks. I had more than two blocks."
Brimah had a team-best 10 rebounds and three points.
On the mark
The day after making just 8-of-19 free throws in an overtime loss to Temple, the Huskies spent a lot of time shooting foul shots in practice on Thursday.
"Let's just say a whole bunch," sophomore Terrence Samuel said.
The extra work paid off.
UConn converted 17-of-20 on Saturday, including all nine in the second half. Florida went just 8-for-20.
The Huskies made six straight in the last 32.4 seconds, with Boatright sinking four and Samuel two.
"We just stepped up there with confidence and knocked them down," Samuel said.