Men's Basketball: Huskies look to return to form against Ohio State

UConn men's basketball guard Sterling Gibbs handles the ball during the Huskies' game against Sacred Heart at XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (Bailey Wright/The Daily Campus)

UConn men’s basketball will make its return to Gampel Pavilion Saturday Dec. 12 when they host to Ohio State. Tipoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.

UConn (5-3) last played at its on campus home on Nov. 21 when the team took down Furman.

The Huskies are coming off a 76-66 defeat at the hands of No. 6 Maryland. That game followed a similar pattern for UConn, falling behind by double digits before mounting a late comeback that ultimately fell short.

"We just got to punch. We have to play harder. (The team) knows we have to fight," coach Kevin Ollie said. "We have to be energized, we have to be up. We know everything is not going to be perfect, but we can't sit back and relax. We have to play UConn basketball.

Sophomore swingman Daniel Hamilton scored a season high 23 points to help rally his team, but it was not enough to take down the Terrapins at Madison Square Garden.

"We're going to trust the process, but there are some things that I underlined in practice today that I want to see. If I don't see them, then someone else is going to get an opportunity," Ollie said. 

This will be UConn’s sixth match up against the Buckeyes (4-4). They last met in the 1999 Final Four, resulting in a UConn victory en route to the first national championship in program history. Ohio State holds the edge with a lifetime record of 3-2.

This is the second consecutive and third overall game that UConn has faced against a Big Ten opponent. The Huskies defeated Michigan in the Battle 4 Atlantis and were defeated by Maryland on Tuesday. Head coach Kevin Ollie is 4-1 in games against Big Ten schools.

Four Huskies average 10 or more points offensively, led by sophomore guard Daniel Hamilton (13.9 ppg) and junior guard Rodney Purvis (13.8 ppg). Graduate forward Shonn Miller (12.1 ppg) and graduate guard Sterling Gibbs (11.9 ppg) are the others. Hamilton is the team's leading rebounder at 8.8 boards a game.

Ohio State is coming off a 74-50 victory over Air Force their last time out. Look for junior forward Marc Loving to pace the Buckeyes. He leads the team in scoring (17.1) and rebounding (7.0). Freshman guard JaQuan Lyle leads the team in assists (5.5).

This is Ohio State’s first true road game of the season. Although it may be a down year for the program, a win over the Buckeyes could loom large in the eyes of the NCAA Selection Committee. UConn has already dropped three games against big name programs (Syracuse, Gonzaga and Maryland). With dates against Georgetown and Texas looming, UConn needs to start bolstering their nonconference resume before it is too late.

“Hopefully we get more opportunities, hopefully we learn from this, hopefully we get better,” Ollie said following the loss against Maryland. “Hopefully we have more purpose when we play Ohio State.”

The Huskies look to get back in the win column on Saturday afternoon when they host the Ohio State Buckeyes. Tipoff is set for noon at Gampel Pavilion. For those not in attendance, the game will be broadcast on CBS.


Elan-Paolo DeCarlo is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering UConn men's basketball. He can be reached via email at elan-paolo.decarlo@uconn.edu. He tweets @ElanDeCarlo.