Men’s basketball: Purvis soars at XL Center again

Junior guard Rodney Purvis rises for a jumper during UConn's 88-79 win over UMass-Lowell. Purvis finished with 28 points, one shy of his career high. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus).

For many fans, the XL Center is a pain. Getting to Hartford from campus is frustrating, the arena itself isn’t that hospitable, and it takes games away from the beloved Gampel Pavilion.

Yet, for whatever reason, Rodney Purvis plays his best basketball in Hartford.

Registering another dominant effort, Purvis improved his scoring average to over 16.8 points per game at the XL Center.

“I definitely like playing at XL. It’s much bigger, it’s a special place. Most of our big games are high. We made that great run in the (American Athletic Conference tournament) last year. There’s chemistry here, I like it here,” Purvis said.

His career scoring average is just over 12.4 points per game.

Purvis was electric Sunday afternoon against UMass-Lowell. He finished with a game high 28 points to pace the Huskies to an 88-79 victory.

He really makes our engine go on both ends. His level of play is stepping up, throwing punches. It’s not just about scoring, when he gets his energy up on defense it leads to great opportunities.
— Kevin Ollie

Purvis shot a blistering 10-14 from the field, including 5-8 from three point range. On many of those makes, Purvis’ shot hit nothing but net.

“I’m going to make some shots, miss some shots, so the main thing I want to do is play hard. We got the win, but we have to get better,” Purvis said.

Over UConn’s first 10 games, Purvis has been their most consistent scorer, getting into double figures in each game. Dating back to last season, he’s gotten into double figures in 16 straight games.

“Purv is really playing at a high level now, taking the ball to the rim shooting it with confidence,” head coach Kevin Ollie said. “We need that consistency out of Rodney. He’s been playing really well. That’s him putting work in, day in day out, trying to be the leader.”

It was an all-around scoring effort from Purvis. He knocked down jumpers, got to the rim, and even got a fast break dunk. At one point in the second half, Purvis scored eight of ten UConn (7-3) points to extend their lead from 10 to 14.

In his third season in the program, Purvis has truly evolved into a leader. He’s responded to the bigger role.

“I just try to lead by example, through the good and the bad. I just have to be positive, the guys feed off of me,” Purvis said.

Ollie has taken notice of the growth.

“He’s doing a good job leading on the court off the court. Defensively, offensively, he’s leading the team. In practice, he finishes first in sprints. Hats off to him for taking that role. He really makes our engine go on both ends. His level of play is stepping up, throwing punches. It’s not just about scoring, when he gets his energy up on defense it leads to great opportunities.”


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