Men's Basketball: Huskies advance to Battle 4 Atlantis semfinal

Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie has a word with guard Rodney Purvis (44) during an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Paradise Island, Bahamas. (Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP)

Daniel Hamilton has already flirted with the possibility of a triple-double multiple times in the first three games of the season for the UConn men’s basketball team. In the opening game of the Battle 4 Atlantis against Michigan, he came closer than he ever has before.

The sophomore forward scored a team-high 16 points and added nine rebounds and nine assists to lead No. 18 UConn (4-0) to a 74-60 win over the Wolverines (2-2). In the second half alone, Hamilton scored seven points with four rebounds and six assists, including a crucial three-pointer with 1:11 left to play to end an 8-4 run by Michigan and extend the Huskies’ lead to 11.

Hamilton’s all-around performance marks the third time in four games he has had a chance at a triple-double after scoring seven points, nine rebounds and nine assists in the season opener against Maine and posting 13 points, 11 rebounds and six assists against New Hampshire. One more rebound and assist for Hamilton against the Wolverines would have given him the 11th triple-double in program history and the first since Shabazz Napier did so against Yale in 2013.

After a slow start in which the Huskies went down 5-0, UConn would get on the board 2:39 into the game on a three-pointer by Sterling Gibbs. After getting down 12-5, UConn would rattle off a 7-0 run to tie the game at 12-12.

Michigan would go up 15-14 with 8:26 left in the first half and held the lead until Sam Cassell Jr. hit a three-pointer to put the Huskies up 17-15 with seven minutes left in the first half.

From there, the Huskies never looked back.

UConn finished the half on a 19-7 run following Cassell Jr.’s first three of the night, and headed into halftime with a 36-22 lead. The Huskies shot 70 percent from the floor on their last 20 field goal attempts of the first half, and also outrebounded the Wolverines 22-12.

The Huskies would grow their lead to a game-high 19 points halfway through the second half. Michigan managed to cut the lead to as low as eight with 2:19 left thanks to nine points from Caris Levert as part of a 12-6 Wolverines run. Levert would finish the night with a game-high 21 points on 7-12 shooting.

Levert and Derrick Walton Jr. were the only Michigan players in double figures, with Walton Jr. adding 10 points. The Huskies continued their strong defensive showings this season against the Wolverines by holding a Michigan offense that entered the game shooting nearly 44 percent from the three-point line to just 27.6 percent from beyond the arc.

UConn helped shut down the Michigan offense by locking down one of the Wolverines’ top three-point threats in Duncan Robinson, who was 7-10 on three-point attempts in Michigan’s first three games. Robinson finished the night with five points, shooting 1-6 from the three-point line.

Four Huskies joined Hamilton with double-digit points. Gibbs and Cassell Jr. added 11 points each, while Shonn Miller and Rodney Purvis scored 13 a piece. UConn finished the night shooting 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from the three-point line.

With the win, the Huskies advance to take on former Big East rival Syracuse in Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals. The Orange defeated Charlotte in their first round matchup 83-70 thanks to a game-high 26 points from Michael Gbinije.

The matchup against Syracuse is the first since the Orange left for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014. UConn head coach Kevin Ollie is 1-0 all time against Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, with the Huskies winning 66-58 on Feb. 13, 2013 at the XL Center. Thursday’s game against Syracuse will tip off at 3:30 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN.


Dan Madigan is associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.madigan@uconn.edu. He tweets @dmad1433.