The UConn men’s basketball team was handled easily by American Athletic Conference rival SMU in a 69-49 laugher Thursday night at Moody Coliseum in Dallas. The loss dropped UConn to 7-11 overall and 2-4 in conference play.
Freshman Vance Jackson had 17 points on 5-for-12 shooting (5-for-10 on three-pointers) for UConn, who dropped their fourth consecutive game at Moody Coliseum. Shake Milton led SMU (16-4, 6-1 The American) with 23 points and six assists, while Semi Ojeleye added 17 points.
The Huskies, playing without forward Steven Enoch (stress reaction in right foot), hung with SMU until about midway through the first half. Big men Kentan Facey, Amida Brimah and Juwan Durham had buckets in the early minutes for UConn.
The game was tied at 10 apiece with 10:41 remaining in the first half before the Mustangs made a huge run. Spurned on partially by a technical foul from Brimah, who was visibly frustrated by a foul call, SMU closed the half on a dominating 26-5 run to lead 36-15 at the break. After a miserable outing against Georgetown, Brimah had a similarly bad day in Dallas.
The Mustangs easily swung the ball around the perimeter to repeatedly generate open shots, while suffocating UConn with strong defense on the other end. Milton was the beneficiary on many plays, hitting multiple three-pointers.
The Huskies, save Facey, couldn’t make anything happen on the offensive end. After starting the half 5-for-12 from the field, enough to stay in the game, UConn made just one of their last 16 shots of the first half.
The game was essentially over at halftime, although the UConn offense did come alive after the break to outscore SMU 34-33 in the second half. Jackson hit all five of his three-pointers in the second half, but the Mustangs kept pace and prevented the Huskies from making any runs.
SMU did extend their lead to 29 points with 2:02 remaining, before UConn finished the game on a 9-0 run as the Mustangs closed out an easy win. Ojeleye scored nine points in the second half to stabilize SMU.
UConn guards Jalen Adams and Rodney Purvis combined for just five points on 1-for-14 shooting, although Adams notched eight assists. Facey had another strong game, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Up next, UConn will return home to host East Carolina Sunday at the XL Center in Hartford. Tip-off between the Huskies and the Pirates is scheduled for 6 p.m.