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UConn notes: Nolan draws charges, praise from Ollie

Hartford — Phil Nolan doesn't mind doing the dirty work.

In fact, he embraces it.

Nolan works hard on defense, sets good screens and boxes out down low. He especially takes pride in drawing offensive charges.

He did all of the above in UConn's 68-62 win over Georgetown on Saturday at the XL Center.

Playing in his 114th career game at UConn, Nolan's contribution went beyond his six points, including two clutch free throws that put the Huskies ahead for good with two minutes, 44 seconds remaining, and three rebounds in 22 minutes.

"I thought Phil would be our cornerstone on defense, and he's been that," coach Kevin Ollie said. "We've won a national championship with him starting. He's been in the big games before and he's been under pressure."

Nolan made the one of game's biggest defensive plays, drawing a charge from Georgetown's L.J. Peak with 13 seconds left and UConn up four. He popped up wearing a big smile.

"It's fun," he said. "There's no better feeling than something like that."

When asked if it was like hitting a game-winning shot, Nolan cracked up his audience with his answer.

"I wouldn't know," Nolan said. "In high school, I was never like the best shooter. I wasn't the main option to shoot a three at the end of the game."

Nolan, a senior forward, came into the game averaging 1.6 points and 1.6 rebounds.

Purvis breaks out

It's been a challenging few games for Rodney Purvis, who's had to adjust to a new role after being removed from the starting lineup despite leading the team in scoring. He had only eight points in his first two games as a reserve.

Purvis returned to form on Saturday.

From the first time Purvis entered the game early in the first half, he played aggressively on both ends of the floor. He scored eight of UConn's 10 points and assisted on the other basket during one productive stretch.

Purvis had 11 of his game-high 17 points in the first half. His big steal with 18 seconds left and ensuing free throws seal the victory.

"I had three games where I was kind of absence," Purvis said. "I was able to get some shots fall for me today and bring some energy."

Ollie likes to have a scorer coming off the bench, and Purvis fits that role.

"I told him, 'the guys I start are the guys I like. The guys that finish the game, are the ones I trust,' " Ollie said. "He finished the game with 30 minutes. ... What he did is play with energy. It wasn't about the scoring."

Purvis had his best game of season from the line, sinking seven of eight. Prior to that, he's struggled, sinking 56.1 percent.

"I told you all a couple of weeks ago that I'm going to start making my free throws," Purvis said.

News and notes

For the eighth time in nine games, UConn held an opponent under 40 percent from the field. Georgetown shot 39 percent. ... Ollie on why he replaced freshman Jalen Adams with senior Omar Calhoun in the starting lineup: "It was something internal. We'll go back the next two days and evaluate who we start next game." Only Adams scored, finishing with two points. ... Key stats: UConn won the rebounding battle, 35-34, made a season-high 29 free throws (compared to Georgetown's seven) and had only seven turnovers. ... Purvis is good friends with Georgetown's D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. They chatted a bit with Sterling Gibbs at the foul line with 10 seconds left. "I was just asking him how many girls you've got back in D.C," Purvis said with a laugh. "Just joking around." ... Up next: UConn hosts Cincinnati Thursday at the XL Center.

g.keefe@theday.com

Twitter: @GavinKeefe

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