Another day, another ugly game.
Just two days removed from a late loss to No. 18 Arizona, the UConn men’s basketball team crumbled under the intensity and pressure of a rambunctious Auburn team, falling 89-64 on the road.
Jalen Adams led UConn (7-5) with 14 points, and Christian Vital and Terry Larrier both reached double figures. The trio combined for 37 of UConn’s 64 point, while five Auburn (11-1) players had double-digit points and four others recorded at least five points. Mustapha Heron and Desean Murray both led the Tigers with 13 points.
It felt like UConn’s worse game all season. For the fifth time in their last seven games, UConn gave up 40 first half points to their opponent, a point total it took the Huskies 30 minutes to get to.
UConn opened up sluggish, missing their first six jumpers, but a Vital 3-pointer and an Adams jumper tied the score at seven—the closest UConn ever got to having the lead. The Huskies then dug themselves a first half hole too deep to recover from due to a cold spell where they could neither play offense nor defense.
A 16-0 run by the Tigers, highlighted by three 3-pointers from Malik Dunbar—his only 3s of the game— sent the Huskies into a timeout as 9,000 strong in Auburn Arena continued to rattle UConn’s spirits.
The Huskies responded with a few quick points, but were no match for Auburn’s fast-paced, energetic play. As has been the case for every UConn loss, the other team made shots and the Huskies did not. They made just eight field goals and two 3-pointers in the first half as opposed to Auburn’s 15 field goals and six 3-pointers.
Despite a stretch in the final minutes of the half where the Tigers went 0-for-9 from the floor, UConn barely made up any ground and a long 3-pointer from Jared Harper with five seconds left sent the Huskies to the locker room down by 23, their largest halftime deficit of the season. They finished the first half with 13 fouls and eight turnovers and allowed every single Auburn player to score at least two points.
UConn immediately started the second half with a turnover and gave up five points on the other end. The Huskies tried to chip away, banking in some layups, but simply did not have the offensive or defensive capabilities to mount any sort of comeback. They failed to come up with rebounds, to guard the perimeter and to make easy shots.
Perhaps the only entertaining part of the game for UConn came with just under four minutes to play, when Kwintin Williams, getting his first significant chunk of playing time, rose up for a monster dunk in between two Tigers. He had six points off the bench.
But that was just about all the Huskies had in terms of fire and heart. UConn surprisingly had the height advantage on Auburn, but definitely did not have the aggressiveness advantage. Auburn outscored UConn off the bench (39-24) and in the paint (30-24), and finished with 18 assists as opposed to UConn’s seven. The Tigers shot sunk 12 of their 34 3-point attempts, while UConn only hit four of their 18 attempts.
UConn will have a week off before starting conference play against No. 11 Wichita State at the XL Center at noon on Dec. 30.