Men's Basketball: No. 4 Michigan State catches fire in second half to beat Huskies 77-57

UConn guard Alterique Gilbert tries to drive by a defender during UConn's 72-64 win over Stony Brook on Nov. 14 at the XL Center in Hartford. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

UConn guard Alterique Gilbert tries to drive by a defender during UConn's 72-64 win over Stony Brook on Nov. 14 at the XL Center in Hartford. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

After hanging tough with No. 4 Michigan State in the first half, the UConn men's basketball team was buried under a barrage of shooting in the second as they fell 77-57 in the second round of the PK80 Invitational Friday night in Portland, Oregon.

The Huskies (4-1) trailed just 28-27 at the half, but an outburst of scoring from Spartans guard Cassius Winston helped MSU pull away after the break. Winston led all scorers with 28 points as the Huskies suffered their first loss of the season, while Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier combined for 40 points for UConn.

It was Alterique Gilbert that led the UConn offense in the early goings, scoring seven of UConn's first 12 points and making some nice drives to the rim. Forwards David Onuorah and Josh Carlton struggled early, turning the ball over and committing fouls.

The Spartans' star, Miles Bridges, returned Friday after missing the previous game at PK80, but he  appeared limited as he played just 17 minutes. He contributed six points and eight rebounds in his time on the court.

A pair of 3-pointers from Adams helped give UConn an 18-12 lead midway through the first half, which would stand as their largest of the game. Adams led the Huskies with 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting.

That was the peak of the Huskies' offensive output, as the rest of the half was characterized by turnovers and bad shot selection. Larrier in particular had a rough half, shooting just 1-for-9 from the field and 0-for-3 from downtown.

Michigan State couldn't buy a basket either, so the two teams largely traded empty possessions to head into halftime with the Spartans leading by just one point, even though UConn shot 30 percent from the field and turned the ball over nine times.

The second half was a different story. As they did against DePaul Thursday, the Spartans seized control with a 15-6 burst to build a double-digit lead four minutes in. The Huskies, with Onuorah and Carlton in foul trouble, were at a significant size disadvantage.

Some hot shooting from Larrier reduced the lead to just five points with 10:59 remaining, but then MSU made the decisive run. The Spartans hit eight straight shots to build a 14-point advantage, with Winston taking over on the offensive end.

Although Adams and Larrier continued to make a couple of shots, UConn could not keep up as Michigan State ran away with a 20-point win. They advanced to play No. 9 North Carolina Sunday night in the Victory Bracket finals.

Gilbert was the only significant contributor for UConn behind Adams and Larrier, scoring 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting. Onourah and Carlton combined for just two points in 39 minutes.

Next, UConn will finish play at the PK80 by taking on Arkansas on Sunday at 3 p.m.


Tyler Keating is the sports editor for The Daily Campus, covering men’s basketball. He can be reached via email at tyler.keating@uconn.edu. He tweets @tylerskeating.