The UConn men’s basketball team opened American Athletic Conference play with a disappointing loss Saturday as they fell 72-62 to No. 8 Wichita State at the XL Center in Hartford.
Landry Shamet led the Shockers with 16 points on 5-for-9 shooting (5-for-6 from 3-point range) as Gregg Marshall’s squad picked up a win in their first conference game as a member of the American.
Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier both scored 18 points for UConn, while Christian Vital added 17.
The Huskies committed four turnovers in the first three minutes as they started slowly on the offensive end, but strong defensive discipline helped them turn the tide and rip off a 10-0 run early in the first half.
UConn used a zone look to disrupt the Shockers’ offensive flow early, but sharp 3-point shooting from Shamet and Austin Reaves combined with relentless rebounding from Rashard Kelly helped Wichita State regain control.
A 10-1 run from the Shockers gave them a 25-21 lead with 2:56 left in the half, and they treaded water from there to take a 33-29 lead into the halftime break.
Early jumpers from Adams and Larrier tied the game at 35 before the first media timeout of the second half, and got the XL Center crowd on their feet. However, in what would become a theme down the stretch, Wichita State responded with a couple of buckets.
The Shockers took a 49-43 lead with 11:32 left before two Larrier jumpers and a lay-up from Vital tied the game at 49.
That was as close as UConn would get, as the Shockers took control of the game down the stretch with sound offensive sets, hot shooting and relentless effort on the glass from Kelly, who finished with six offensive boards.
The Huskies trailed by three points with 5:03 before Wichita State scored five of the next seven baskets to build a 10-point lead with 1:22 left. The Shockers secured the win with free throw shooting in the final stretch.
UConn returns to action in 2018, when they travel to take on Tulsa Jan. 3 in conference play.