UConn men searching for first true road win as they visit Tulane

UConn's Jalen Adams, right, celebrates with teammate Christian Vital after hitting a 3-pointer at halftime buzzer during the Huskies' 62-53 win over Central Florida on Tuesday. The Huskies look for their first true road win on Saturday when they play Tulane in New Orleans at 1 p.m. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
UConn's Jalen Adams, right, celebrates with teammate Christian Vital after hitting a 3-pointer at halftime buzzer during the Huskies' 62-53 win over Central Florida on Tuesday. The Huskies look for their first true road win on Saturday when they play Tulane in New Orleans at 1 p.m. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Life on the road has been cruel to the UConn men's basketball team.

Some of the Huskies' toughest and most lopsided losses this season have happened in their three true road games.

They played well at nationally-ranked Arizona before fading late and falling by 15. They suffered an embarrassing 25-point loss at Auburn in a game that was much uglier than the final margin indicated. And, most recently, they lost their composure and lead in a double overtime, two-point defeat at Tulsa on Jan. 3.

For UConn (9-7, 2-2) to climb in the conference standings, it has to start racking up some road wins to go along with its impressive 8-1 home record.

The Huskies carry a two-game winning streak into a two-game road trip that starts in New Orleans at Tulane (11-5, 2-2) on Saturday (1 p.m., ESPNews) and ends at Memphis (11-6, 2-2) Tuesday.

Sophomore Christian Vital believes the Huskies are starting to resemble the team they hope they will be. The next step is to pile up some wins away from home.

"We definitely got to get some road wins," Vital said. "We know the situation that we're in and we know our record and how it is going to pan out going to the end of the season will depend on what we do.

"... We're staying together. I think we're honestly starting to figure this thing out. We have really great competition. Maybe some guys didn't know exactly what that was going to be like coming in. We have two guys who played a full season at UConn (last season) in Jalen (Adams) and me."

"Those guys are starting to understand what this is and everything that's going on and we're starting to jell."

UConn has never lost to Tulane in five meetings, but this is a vastly improved Green Wave team. Under the guidance of Mike Dunleavy, Sr., who spent 17 years as a head coach in the NBA, Tulane already has five more wins than last season, tied for the second best improvement in the country.

Like UConn, Tulane has been tough to beat at home, going 8-1 including a win over Southern Methodist (73-70) on Jan. 4.

The Green Wave's main source of offense comes from junior Melvin Frazier (17.6 points per game) and redshirt senior Cameron Reynolds (16.3), the second highest scoring duo in the AAC behind UConn's Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier, who combine for 34.3 points.

The Huskies are feeling good after playing one of their best games in a 62-53 win over Central Florida on Wednesday. The Huskies never trailed, played stingy defense and scored timely baskets.

"I think things can turn around for this team if we just continue to play the way we did (Wednesday)," Adams said.

A repeat performance will definitely increase the odds of UConn extending its winning streak.

The Huskies can't afford to only play well in spurts as they did in previous road games.

"We've got to execute," said coach Kevin Ollie, whose team went 4-8 on the road last season. "I thought the Tulsa game was good but we just didn't execute down the stretch and come up with stops. But I think those guys learned from that and I think we will be better on this road trip, hopefully."

g.keefe@theday.com

UCONN at TULANE

Location: Devlin Fieldhouse, New Orleans

Tip: 1 p.m. (ESPNews)

Records: UConn 9-7, 2-2, Tulane 11-5, 2-2

Last game: UConn beat UCF, 62-53, Wednesday; Tulane lost at Memphis, 96-89, Tuesday

Probable starters: UConn, 6-3 jr. guard Jalen Adams (18.5 pts, 5.1 rebs, 4.2 assists), 6-2 so. guard Christian Vital (13.9 pts, 4.9 rebs) 6-8 redshirt jr. forward Terry Larrier (15.8 pts, 5.1 rebs), 6-8 fr. forward Isaiah Whaley (2.9 pts, 2.9 rebs), 6-9 fr. forward Josh Carlton (2.7 pts, 2.8 rebs)

Tulane, 6-6 jr. guard Melvin Frazier (17.6 pts, 5.5 rebs, 3.2 assists), 6-5 so. guard Ray Ona Embo (9.7 pts), 6-6 r-jr. guard Jordan Cornish (9.8 pts, 3.5 rebs), 6-8 r-sr. Cameron Reynolds (16.3 pts, 6.5 rebs), 6-9 jr. forward Blake Paul (4.6 pts, 3.5 rebs)

Noteworthy: UConn won two straight, Tulane lost two of three. ... Huskies 0-3 on road, Green Wave 8-1 at home. ... Series: UConn leads 5-0, including 2-0 at Tulane. Won last meeting, 78-68, last Jan. 28 in Storrs. ... Tulane owns AAC wins over Temple, SMU. ... Top reserve: 6-9 r-so. forward Samir Sehic (10.2 pts, 5.3 rebs). ... Frazier had career-high 28 pts in loss at Memphis. First in AAC in steals at 2.6 per game. ... Common AAC foes: Tulsa (UConn lost 90-88 in 2OTs, Tulane lost 65-56). ... Tulane with five games of at least 20 assists, UConn zero. ... Hot: Vital averaging 17 pts, 5.5 rebs, 4.5 steals in last two games. Cold: Huskies shooting 27.4 percent from 3-pt range in four AAC games. ... Reserve Eric Cobb (indefinite suspension) will miss 2nd straight game. ... Whaley with 25 pts in last five games after scoring 16 in his first nine appearances. ... Tulane averages a league-worst 1,392 fans at home. ... Up next: UConn visits Memphis Tuesday.

— Gavin Keefe

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