Men's Basketball: Huskies drop road bout to No. 14 Cincinnati

Cincinnati's Troy Caupain (10) blocks a shot by Connecticut's Amida Brimah (35) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The UConn men’s basketball team fell 82-68 to American Athletic Conference rival Cincinnati Saturday evening at Fifth Third Arena in Ohio. Cincinnati, ranked No. 14 in the nation, handled the undermanned Huskies for their 14th straight win.

Rodney Purvis led UConn (10-12, 5-5 The American) with 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting, while Amida Brimah added 16 points and five rebounds. Kyle Washington powered Cincinnati (21-2, 10-0 The American) to the win with 27 points on 11-for-18 shooting.

UConn never led Saturday. The game was tied at four apiece after a few minutes, but after that the Bearcats’ defensive versatility took over and Mick Cronin’s squad never looked back.

While UConn big men Juwan Durham and Steven Enoch were both available, returning from injuries that had kept the pair out for a few games, head coach Kevin Ollie elected not to use them often, leaving the Huskies with essentially six rotation players again. Facing a deep Cincinnati team, UConn struggled tremendously to create good shots on the offensive end.

The Huskies also saw a poor offensive showing from guard Jalen Adams, the team’s leading scorer and the hero the last time these two teams met. Adams finished with just eight points, although he led UConn with five assists.

Despite their scoring issues, UConn hung in the game for much of the first half because of Cincinnati’s terrible shooting early in the game. The Bearcats hit just one of their first 10 attempts from long range, with Washington keeping them steady in the game’s early stages. UConn trailed 17-15 with 7:21 left in the first half.

Then, Cincinnati’s much-improved offense began to take over, as they ripped off a quick 8-0 run on their way to a 34-26 halftime lead. A couple of early second half buckets from Brimah helped UConn maintain that deficit for a few minutes, before the Bearcats went on a defining 11-0 run to go up by 19 points and seize complete control of the game.

Gary Clark had eight of Cincinnati’s points during that run, hurting UConn from both the interior and from behind the 3-point line. Clark finished 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting, while adding 11 rebounds.

The Bearcats killed UConn from beyond the arc after their poor start, hitting 11 of their last 15 attempts from deep to finish with a 46 percent mark.

Cincinnati’s lead grew as large as 66-43 with about 10 minutes left, but the Huskies continued to fight, making an inconsequential rally down the stretch. UConn did rip off an 11-0 run of their own over the final three minutes before falling 82-68.

UConn freshmen Christian Vital and Vance Jackson finished with 13 and nine points, respectively, while senior Kentan Facey scored just two points in 31 minutes.

American Preseason Co-Player of the Year Troy Caupain scored just seven points, although he did hand out six assists. Cincinnati’s leading scorer entering the game, guard Jacob Evans, went scoreless on three shots.

Up next, the Huskies will return home to Storrs to face USF Wednesday at Gampel Pavilion. Tip-off between UConn and USF is scheduled for 7 p.m.


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