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Adams helping to drive the Huskies in a key reserve role

Like an eager, young driver, it took some experience behind the wheel for Jalen Adams to learn the value of obeying the speed limit.

Faster is not necessarily better on the basketball court.

With each passing game, Adams slowed his game down and played more under control, developing into one of UConn's most reliable players off the bench.

"I think I'm just taking my time," Adams said recently. "I'm not speeding. Be fast in the mind but slow on the court. I think that's helping me out a lot."

Expect Adams, a 6-foot-3 point guard, to a vital part of the rotation Sunday when UConn (6-3) returns from an eight-day exam break to host UMass Lowell (4-6) at the XL Center in Hartford (4 p.m., SNY).

Adams is coming off his best all-around game, contributing 11 points, a career-high four rebounds, four assists and only one turnover in an impressive 75-55 rout of Ohio State on Dec. 12.

Coach Kevin Ollie rewarded Adams by playing him a career-best 29 minutes.

"He's just getting better and better and better right in front of everybody's eyes," Ollie said. "He's really taking his time on pick and rolls. He's being patient finding the open man."

Adams has a respectable assist to turnover ratio of 22 to 12.

When Adams enters a game, he typically helps the Huskies operate at a more desired uptempo pace. He's part of an attack-oriented three-guard lineup at times, also giving starting point guard Sterling Gibbs some time off the ball.

The Huskies thrived with a smaller lineup on the floor against Ohio State, contributing to a sizzling season-high 60.4 percent from the field.

Ollie shortened the rotation, mainly using seven players. Adams and senior Omar Calhoun were the only substitutes to play more than three minutes.

That doesn't mean Ollie won't go deeper into his bench today against young UMass Lowell. It is the first of two pre-Christmas games in Hartford, the other versus Central Connecticut State University on Wednesday afternoon.

"That's still game-by-game," Ollie said of his rotation. "It was just a feel thing. ... I want those other guys to stay alive because it's a long season. A lot of things can change."

It would take a dropoff in energy, effort and production for Adams to lose his spot.

Adams, who led Brewster Academy to a national prep school championship last season, is attempting to live up his advanced billing.

He's been compared to former Husky standout Shabazz Napier, in part because they're hail from Roxbury, Mass., and play the same position.

American Athletic Conference coaches named Adams the conference's preseason rookie of the year. So far, his biggest competition is Memphis forward Dedric Lawson (16.4 points, 9.5 rebounds), the early frontrunner.

He's still searching for some offensive consistency. He's shooting just 39.7 percent from the field, 26.7 percent (4-for-15) from three, while averaging 6.4 points. He also chips in 2.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds.

As long as he obeys the speed limit and remains in control, he'll continue to be a significant factor for the Huskies.

g.keefe@theday.com

Twitter: @GavinKeefe

UConn-UMass Lowell

NO. 25 UCONN vs. UMASS LOWELL

Location: XL Center, Hartford

Tip: 4 p.m. (SNY)

Records: UConn 6-3, UMass Lowell 4-6

Last game: UConn beat Ohio State, 75-55, Dec. 12; UMass Lowell lost to CCSU, 83-79, Friday

Probable starters: UConn, 6-2 grad. guard Sterling Gibbs (11 pts, 2.9 assists), r-jr. guard Rodney Purvis (13.7 pts, 3.3 rebs), 6-7 so. forward Daniel Hamilton (13.3 pts, 8.2 rebs, 5.2 assists), 6-7 grad. forward Shonn Miller (12 pts, 5.3 rebs), 7-0 jr. center Amida Brimah (7.8 pts, 5.2 rebs, 3 blks)

UMass Lowell, 6-3 fr. guard Ryan Jones (8.5 pts), 6-0 fr. guard Isaac White (11.2 pts, 4.0 rebs), 6-1 so. guard Matt Harris (7.5 pts), 6-7 r-fr. forward Josh Gantz (6.7 pts, 3.8 rebs), r-so. forward Jahad Thomas (10.7 pts, 7.4 rebs)

Noteworthy: First meeting between New England programs. ... River Hawks in third year at D-1 level. ... Own win over Boston College (68-66, Dec. 10). ... Only three upperclassmen in regular rotation. ... Top reserve: fr. guard Keith Hayes (7.9 pts, 2.1 rebs). ... River Hawks 1st in America East in 3-pt FG percentage (37.3). White top threat at 46 percent (23-for-50). ... Coach Pat Duquette a former BC assistant under Al Skinner. ... Huskies yet to win when trailing at half (0-2). ... Hot: Purvis only Husky to score in double figures in all 9 games. Cold: Gibbs 3-for-14 from three in last four games. ... Huskies 5-0 at home. ... Up next: UConn hosts Central Connecticut Wednesday in Hartford

— Gavin Keefe

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