HARTFORD — UConn finished off its pre-Christmas schedule on Wednesday by easily knocking off Central Connecticut 99-52 in front of 7,123 at the XL Center.
The Huskies head into the Christmas break with an 8-3 record and winners of three straight games. UConn’s next game is at Texas on Dec. 29.
The Huskies started slowly on Wednesday, but eventually hit their stride and ran away from the Blue Devils by 47 points, the largest margin of victory of the season for UConn.
For the third straight game, the Huskies shot 60 percent or higher from the field.
Here are some takeaways from Wednesday’s game:
Miller, Facey fill in for Brimah
Amida Brimah, who injured his finger in practice on Monday, will miss six to eight weeks, the team announced on Tuesday.
He was scheduled for surgery Wednesday, but coach Kevin Ollie said postgame that the surgery was delayed a day and will take place on Thursday.
Without center Amida Brimah in the game, UConn needed an inside presence on Wednesday against CCSU (1-9) after not having much of one against UMass Lowell on Sunday.
Shonn Miller and Kentan Facey stepped up against the Blue Devils.
Miller scored a season-high 25 points on 10 of 12 shooting while also grabbing five rebounds.
The graduate senior from Cornell had his best game of the season in just 22 minutes. Miller scored 14 points in the first half. And Ollie only played him for seven minutes in the second half, but he managed to score 11 points in that time.
Miller even stepped behind the three-point line and made his first three of the season in the first half.
“We just knew different people had to step up in different ways, whether it is defensively or offensively,” Miller said.
Miller came up three points shy of his career high of 28 (December 21, 2014 while at Cornell).
Facey notched his first double-double of the season, scoring 10 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in 21 minutes. It was his second career double-double.
“We want our bigs to perform like that,” Ollie said.
Being without Brimah for an extended period of time is a big loss for the Huskies, but UConn will be OK if they get similar production out of Miller and Facey in the time Brimah is out.
Freshman big-man Steven Enoch scored six points off the bench for the Huskies as well.
“It’s hard to replace him (Brimah),” Miller said. “I don’t really think you can but we’re going to do everything we need to do to have his back and do the things we need to do while he’s gone.”
Daniel Hamilton posts triple-double
Sophomore Daniel Hamilton became the 10th UConn player to notch a triple-double on Wednesday afternoon. He has been close a few times this season, but he finally completed the feat against CCSU.
Hamilton finished the game with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in 27 minutes.
“He’s just a marvelous offensive player…[with] the ball in his hands he is magical,” Ollie said.
At halftime, Hamilton was more than halfway to a triple-double. He had two points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the Huskies led 46-26 at the break.
It didn’t take him long to notch a double-double with the rebounds and assists, but it took him a while to get the points part of the triple-double.
Ollie took him out of the game, needing just three points, with 11:27 left. But Hamilton was subbed back in three minutes later.
After missing a couple of threes, his final two baskets came from inside the paint.
Hamilton’s 11th point came on a breakaway dunk after he got a steal with 6:30 left.
“He sees the court. He’s very unselfish,” Central coach Howie Dickenman said. “I think he’s a terrific team player. He cares about UConn, he doesn’t care about Daniel Hamilton. He has a chance to be Player of the Year in the league (the American) if he continues to play and get better as he has been doing.”
Hamilton joins Shabazz Napier (2), Kemba Walker, Hasheem Thabeet, Marcus Williams, Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Caron Butler, Doron Sheffer and Donyell Marshall as UConn players to post a triple-double.
After Sunday’s game against UMass Lowell, Ollie was not happy with how the defense played. It was the first game for the Huskies without Brimah in the lineup, and the Huskies allowed the River Hawks to shoot 50 percent from the field and score 28 points in the paint.
Wednesday was a major improvement for the Huskies.
UConn held Central to 35 percent shooting from the field and allowed 22 points in the paint.
“I thought we really made them rush their shots and we did a marvelous job on the backboards,” Ollie said. “So if you’re playing good defense and you’re rebounding it’s going to allow us to execute a little better and I thought we did that.”
After a sluggish start, the Huskies ended up forcing the Blue Devils to commit 19 turnovers for game (10 in the first half). It was the second most turnovers Central committed all season. Their high is 26 against Fordham on Dec. 5.
UConn amped up its ball pressure, starting with a full-court press halfway through the first half and also a 1-2-2 press.
The Huskies turned 19 CCSU turnovers into 26 points.
“I just thought we paid attention to detail,” Ollie said. “I loved our ball pressure. We wanted to put our full-court press in a little bit more. Just watching tape, games that Central struggled in there was a lot of ball pressure and we wanted to bring it back up.”