The UConn men’s basketball team returns home Wednesday when they play Columbia at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs. The Huskies will look to recover from a sour ending to the PK80 Invitational in Portland, as they were drilled in consecutive games after beating Oregon in their tournament opener.
UConn fell to No. 4 Michigan State Friday after hanging tight with the Spartans for the first half and ending 77-51. Sunday, however, was a massive debacle. The Huskies lost 102-67 to Arkansas, their most lopsided loss since a 40-point loss to Syracuse in 1977.
“We totally lost (our identity during the Arkansas game),” UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said after practice Tuesday at the Werth Center. “We can’t do that. As a coaching staff, it starts with me first. The coaching staff and the players, we can’t lose our identity. We are going to get our identity back tomorrow.”
The loss sent the Huskies back to Storrs with a 4-2 record, and although they brought back a nice win over Oregon, they’re looking for victories with two games this week before a showdown with Syracuse next Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
“(Players) were upset that we lost, especially the way we did, but more than anything we talked about moving forward from it,” UConn forward Terry Larrier said on Tuesday.
The natural response is to put the PK80 in the rearview mirror and get back to work, which began with Tuesday’s practice. Ollie said the team responded well to the loss.
“We’re moving forward,” Ollie said. “The guys understand that.”
UConn came back from Portland a little banged up, with Eric Cobb and Alterique Gilbert held out of practice Tuesday. Ollie said their statuses are day-to-day.
Gilbert showed flashes of potential in Portland, and UConn will need him to show more consistency and provide scoring in support of Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier, by far the team scoring leaders at 18.8 and 17.3 points per game, respectively.
Those two also rank first and second on the team in 3-point percentage, with Larrier shooting 46 percent and Adams shooting 32 percent. No other player is shooting better than 25 percent from behind the arc this season.
“That shooting percentage is not indicative of who we are,” Ollie said. “We got good shooters in here. We have to take better shots.”
Columbia, coming out of the Ivy League, sits 1-4 this season with losses in their last three games. They just lost 77-71 on the road to Colgate, who UConn beat 70-58 in their home opener at Gampel Pavilion. UConn holds an 8-2 record against Columbia all-time.
Guard Mike Smith leads the Lions in scoring with 17.4 points per game.
UConn and Columbia will tip off at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs.