Men's Basketball: UConn overcomes slow start, defeats Houston

Connecticut guard Sterling Gibbs (4) drives to the basket for a layup past Houston guard LeRon Barnes (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Bob Levey)

UConn head coach Kevin Ollie shook up the starting lineup on Sunday against Houston.

Ollie sent his leading scorer, Rodney Purvis, and Kentan Facey to the bench and inserted freshman Jalen Adams and Phil Nolan into the starting lineup. 

And although it took UConn a while to get going from the field, the Huskies finished the game on a 28-8 run to grind out a 69-57 win over the Cougars on Sunday afternoon, getting a much needed win after suffering a tough loss against Tulsa on Thursday.

Sterling Gibbs led all scorers with 20 points. Shonn Miller and Daniel Hamilton scored 14 points each and Adams scored 13.

Rob Gray Jr. led Houston with 15 points (12 in the first half).

At the first media timeout, UConn (12-5, 3-2 the American) led 5-2 and both teams were a combined 3 of 14 from the field. Houston would go onto miss 14 of its first 15 shots, but still managed to lead 12-11 in the middle of the first half.

But as slow as both teams started, the pace would pick up toward the end of the half. The Cougars would then make nine of their next 15 shots and would eventually take a 35-28 lead into halftime.

The Huskies had nine turnovers in the first half and shot 44 percent from the field. Houston (13-4, 3-2 the American) shot 36 percent (6 of 14 from three).

Gibbs, who scored 13 points in the second half, hit some big shots for the Huskies, including a three to put UConn up 59-54 with 5:21 left. Gibbs’ three-pointer was part of a 18-5 run for the Huskies.

Gibbs and Miller closed the deal down the stretch for the Huskies, combining to score the team’s last 16 points.

Nolan tied a career-high with eight rebounds Sunday.

After having nine turnovers in the first half, UConn only committed three in the second half.

UConn defense really ramped up in the second half, holding Houston to 22 points. 


Matt Zampini is sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.zampini@uconn.edu. He tweets @Matt_Zamp.