Men's basketball: Foul trouble and sloppy second-half play plague Huskies in loss

UConn senior Rodney Purvis (left) gets airborne during the Huskies’ warm-up before their game against Syracuse at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. Purvis had 10 points and six rebounds in UConn's 64-60 loss to Ohio State on Saturday, Dec. 10. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

In a game where the UConn men’s basketball team once led by eight points, sloppy late-game play and missed shots ended in a 64-60 loss to Ohio State on Saturday night.

By all accounts, the Huskies had one of their best shooting performances in the first half, shooting 54.2 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from three. Jalen Adams led the way with 13 first-half points, but only recorded six on 2-for-10 shooting in the second half, bringing their field goal percentage for the game to 43.6 percent.

As per usual, UConn found themselves down early in the game, trailing by eight points only five minutes into the game. The Huskies then outscored the Buckeyes 17-6 in the next 10 minutes of play to give UConn a two-point advantage with five minutes left in the half. Vance Jackson and Adams both hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the last 45 seconds of play to make the score 34-32 going into halftime.

UConn then opened the second half with an 8-2 run, highlighted by back-to-back dunks by Facey and Purvis that gave the Huskies a 42-34 advantage. Ohio State responded with six straight points to shrink the deficit to two, and tied the game at 47 just four minutes later.

Both teams played an even-keel game for the next eight minutes, as the score was tied at 54 apiece with two minutes of play left. The Buckeyes proceeded to score eight straight points on free throws alone to give them an eight-point advantage with 30 seconds left of play.

Adams scored seven of his eight second-half points in 12 seconds to get UConn back to within four, but he missed two layups and Christian Vital missed a 3-pointer that sealed the deal for UConn.

Surprisingly, field goal shooting is not what destroyed the Huskies in the end, it was free-throw shooting and all-around sloppy play. UConn committed 16 turnovers during the entire game, and the Buckeyes were able to score 17 points off of them; for comparison, Ohio State turned the ball over 12 times, but the Huskies were only able to convert six points out of it.

With only seven players to rotate through (Juwan Durham stayed behind in Storrs with the flu), both Amida Brimah and Kentan Facey fouled out of the game, and Vital and Adams each had four fouls.

Because of the unusual foul trouble UConn found themselves in, Ohio State took a whopping 34 foul shots, netting 26 of them for a percentage of 76. UConn only went to the line nine times, making only five baskets. While it’s arguable that many of the foul calls that went against UConn were either unfair or not even fouls, the Huskies didn’t help themselves by shooting 35.5 percent from the field in the second half.

The good news is that UConn’s perimeter defense and overall defensive play seems to be settling in. The Huskies held Ohio State to 2-for-18 (11 percent) from beyond the arc and 18-for-53 (34 percent) from the floor. However, the overwhelming number of free throws that the Buckeyes took and made rendered each and every UConn shot to be pivotal, but they only scored 13 points in the last 11 minutes.

The Huskies will have a week of practice before taking on North Florida at Gampel Pavilion on Sunday, Dec. 18. 


Stephanie Sheehan is the associate managing editor for The Daily Campus, covering men’s basketball. She can be reached via email at stephanie.sheehan@uconn.edu. She tweets @steph_sheehan.