Men's Basketball: Late run helps No. 18 Arizona slip past Huskies

Arizona center Dusan Ristic (14) shoots over Connecticut forward Mamadou Diarra during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

What started out as a promising night for the UConn men’s basketball team turned into another disappointing loss Thursday as an 8-0 run by No. 18 Arizona wrapped up a 73-58 victory for the Wildcats out in Tucson.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Huskies started out slow. Granted they’ve had an 11-day break for exams, but nevertheless, UConn looked sloppy early. Luckily for them this time, so did Arizona.

The two teams traded ugly possessions back and forth in a first half that included nearly as many combined turnovers (19) and fouls (17) as made field goals (20). The Huskies went into the half down just seven at 30-23.

UConn came out flying to start the second half, scoring the first seven points to tie the contest at 30. Both teams traded baskets after that but UConn never seemed to have an answer for Arizona center Dusan Ristic (18 points, 10 rebounds) and guard Rawle Alkins (20 points).

The UConn trio of Terry Larrier (18 points), Jalen Adams (13 points) and Christian Vital (11 points) kept the Huskies afloat in the second, seemingly answering the call every time Arizona tried to pull away. But in the end, a scoreless drought at the wrong time put the game out of reach. Arizona’s 8-0 run brought the lead up to 65-55, the Wildcats would eventually win by 15 in a game that was close with 5 minutes left.

Arizona’s win Thursday night was their 47th-straight non-conference home win and their first victory all-time against UConn in six matchups. Thursday’s game was also the first time these programs have played each other when only one of the teams had a top-25 ranking.

What does this mean going forward for the Huskies? With the loss, UConn moves to 7-4 as they continue to search for a signature win. The Huskies have an early-season win over Oregon under their belt from the PK80 tournament, but since then they’ve constantly underperformed in opportunities to bolster their résumé come March.

UConn is a very deceiving 7-4. They’ve grinded out close wins against teams like Stony Brook and Monmouth and even struggled in their win over Coppin State (the third worst team in the entire nation).

Their losses have all come against legitimate programs (Michigan State, Arkansas, Syracuse, Arizona.) While it shouldn’t be expected for them to be 11-0 right now, at least one of those four losses needs to be a win for a chance at an at-large bid.

The Huskies have more opportunities on the schedule with games like Wichita State and Villanova looming, but things need to start turning around for Kevin Ollie’s squad…and quickly.


Connor Donahue is the digital editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at connor.f.donahue@uconn.edu. He tweets @conn_donahue.