Here is the UConn men’s basketball team, deep in the midst of a trying, injury-depleted season, and somehow matters get worse. On Sunday, joining their trio of players out for the season were rotation big men Steven Enoch and Juwan Durham, leaving the Huskies with just six scholarship players for an American Athletic Conference match-up with East Carolina at the XL Center.
By any metric, the extreme lack of depth was a difficult situation to handle. With senior center Amida Brimah a consistent threat to enter foul trouble, the Huskies needed fellow senior big man Kentan Facey to deliver Sunday, and again he did.
In yet another strong performance from the much-improved 6-foot-10 forward, Facey delivered his third double-double in four games while playing 39 minutes in a 72-65 win.
“Some of our guys said they can’t feel their legs, especially Kentan [Facey]. I’m so proud, his fourth double-double, two back-to-back. He’s really our catalyst now, rebounding the ball and getting everyone involved with his rebounding, and outletting and pushing the ball,” UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said after the game.
“I can’t say more about Kentan and his effort,” Ollie said.
Facey posted 13 points and ten rebounds against the Pirates. He helped spurn the Huskies to a defining 21-0 run in the first half with a couple of assertive offense moves, while also helping to send UConn out onto the fast break with defensive rebounds and quick passes.
“I felt we came out aggressive, regardless of the amount of guys we had,” Facey said.
On the defensive end, Facey teamed with Brimah to protect the rim, recording four blocks. Brimah managed to avoid most of the dangerous foul trouble that plagued him against Georgetown and SMU, playing 30 minutes and committing three fouls. Remarkably, Facey played 39 minutes and did not commit a foul.
At the end of the day, it was Facey’s fifth double-double of the season, after he compiled just two in the previous three seasons combined. He has taken a significant leap forward in his final season as a Husky to go with increased playing time, having played at least 30 minutes in ten consecutive games.
Seniors are expected to lead by example, and Facey has done just that as UConn continues to plug along. He has become one of the team’s most valuable members, and his consistency has been crucial in conference play.
“That’s probably just a challenge from the coaches and my teammates,” Facey said, when asked about his resurgent senior season. “Just to finish out my senior year strong, in order for us to really have a good season, a decent season, everyone needs to step up. And I’ve been trying to fulfill my role in that.”