With the college basketball season coming to a close after next Monday’s championship game, our UConn men’s basketball beat writers took a look at the Top 10 defining moments for the Huskies in the 2015-16 season.
Elan-Paolo DeCarlo covered numbers 10-7 and Matt Zampini took 6-1.
10. Turkey Day comeback falls just short
Whenever UConn and Syracuse share the floor, it’s a big deal. The two old rivals still maintain an unhealthy disdain for each other. When the Battle 4 Atlantis draw was announced, all fans were hoping for this clash. It did not disappoint. After holding the lead for much of the first half, UConn struggled to perform as the game went along. Halfway through the second frame, Syracuse had the game on lock until the Huskies made their charge. Battling back from a nine-point deficit, UConn cut it to just three with a little over 30 seconds remaining. The Huskies put together an outstanding defensive possession, forcing a heave from Trevor Cooney as the shot clock expired. However, UConn’s fatal flaw of being unable to rebound reared it’s head as Cuse grabbed the ball and ran off the rest of the clock. This game was the first of many that proved that the Huskies just simply could not put away games late.
9. Cincinnati loss at home — Gary Clark 3-point play
Roughly three weeks after being beaten by the Owls, more of the same woes came to UConn. Cincy has always given UConn trouble, their games are always tough. This contest on Jan. 28 was no exception. The refs had been quick with the whistle all night. When Gary Clark went up for a layup late in the game, he was rewarded with a three-point play opportunity to give the Bearcats a 58-57 lead. The real trouble came when UConn tried to answer. Shonn Miller was hit hard on his layup attempt on the other end but no foul was given. Once again, UConn snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
8. Temple loss at home — Josh Brown’s jumper
Kevin Ollie’s teams have displayed a nasty habit of losing nailbiters at home in the final seconds of a game. In the 2014-15 season, the Huskies saw Texas, Yale, Temple and Memphis steal victories as time expired. This year brought more of the same. In UConn’s first matchup with the Owls, the offense was stagnant and the game went right down to the wire. The Huskies did not make a field goal in the final 4:04 of the contest which ended with Brown drilling a jumper to send the Owls on their way.
7. Amida Brimah’s injury
This very well could be the defining moment of UConn’s season. Brimah, although a flawed player, is the heart of the defense. He suffered a lower body injury against Ohio State and in practice, he broke a finger which forced him to miss 11 games right as the Huskies were prepping to begin conference play. UConn went 8-3 in his absence, but two of those losses came on late baskets. He surely would have made a difference.
6. Daniel Hamilton’s triple double
Against CCSU on Dec. 23, Hamilton became the 11th player in UConn history to record a triple-double. The sophomore put up 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as the Huskies cruised to a 99-52 win over the Blue Devils.
5. Losing to SMU by 26 points
The Huskies lost to SMU by 26 points on March 30, the team’s last away game of the year. It was the second loss in a row for the Huskies, leaving doubt about the team’s NCAA tournament hopes.
This was a terrible game for UConn. A lot of people compared it to the blowout loss against Louisville in 2014. Fifty-four points was the third fewest UConn scored all year. The Huskies shot 34 percent from the field and allowed SMU to shoot 52 percent. Only two players scored in double figures and the Huskies had 17 turnovers. (Zampini)
4. Colorado win in NCAA tournament
After missing the tournament a year ago, the Huskies rebounded by winning its first round game against Colorado, 74-67 in Iowa. It got a lot of people on social media saying that the Huskies were going to make a deep run just like the 2014 team did, but we now know that Kansas couldn’t be topped in the next game two days later.
Although this team had the potential to go much further in March, getting back to the tournament and winning a game has to be somewhat encouraging after missing the Big Dance a year ago.
3. Maryland loss at MSG
This game sticks out in my head more than any from the regular season. The scene was set for this to be a classic game. Madison Square Garden. Maryland was ranked No. 6 in the country at the time and UConn had a great chance at getting a resume-building win over the Terps.
Unfortunately for the Huskies they found themselves down by 20 points in the first half. It took a gigantic effort from Daniel Hamilton to bring the Huskies all the way back to within a point. Hamilton made a three that capped a 16-5 run to get the Huskies within three points. And then the paper toss happened.
Jalen Adams got called for a foul with under three minutes to play, causing coach Kevin Ollie to swipe the papers that were on the scorers table onto the floor, leading to a technical foul. The Huskies scored just three points the rest of the game and Maryland ended up winning 76-66.
Who knows what could have happened if those papers hadn’t flown through the air?
2. Winning conference tournament in Orlando
This was huge for UConn. The Huskies have been to the conference championship game three years in a row, but the previous two seasons they could not get it done. This year, they made it happen. Third times the charm, I guess.
Riding some momentum from Jalen Adams hitting a three-quarter court shot, the Huskies finished off Cincinnati in four overtimes, and then Temple and Memphis in consecutive days to clinch a berth to the NCAA tournament.
1. Jalen Adams’ shot vs. Cincinnati
Not only is this the top moment of the season, but it will probably go down as one of the most memorable moments in UConn history.
Trailing by three points in the American Athletic Conference quarterfinal game against Cincinnati after Kevin Johnson just hit a three-pointer with 0.8 seconds left, Adams received a pass from Daniel Hamilton and put up a shot from 60-plus feet. Somehow, it went in. I was there and I still can’t believe it. It was the craziest thing I have ever seen in person.
This was monumental for the Huskies because they went on to win the game in four overtimes, and they used that momentum to win the AAC tournament and clinch a bid for the NCAA tournament. If Adams’ shot doesn’t go in, UConn may not have even made the tournament.