Men’s basketball makes it rain threes en route to setting four conference records

The UConn men's basketball team defeated USF 97-51 on Wednesday night at Gampel Pavilion. Rodney Purvis led the Huskies with 23 points. (Jackson Haigis/ The Daily Campus)

17-0. 16-0. 17-1. 11-2. Those are all the runs that the UConn men’s basketball team went on in their 97-51 decimation of USF tonight at Gampel. Rodney Purvis had a team-high 23 points, Steven Enoch didn’t miss a shot from the floor and Adams notched a double-double with 18 points and 10 assists.

“Everybody contributed, we played a great game,” head coach Kevin Ollie said. “Our guys really shared the basketball, and when you have 35 made field goals and 28 of them assisted, that’s real good offensive execution, and we played some real good defense, so I’m just proud of the guys.”

UConn (11-12, 6-5 the American) didn’t let USF (6-17, 0-12 the American) score a field goal until eight minutes had already gone by. They held the Bulls to 16-for-50 (32 percent) from the field.

HOW MANY RECORDS?

If you had told any Husky fan that this UConn team would set a program record of any kind, much less one that involved making 3-pointers, they would have called you crazy.

They also would have called you crazy if you said they would set records in assists, largest margin of victory and points scored, as well.

But today, UConn achieved as many conference milestones as they have national championships: most 3-pointers made in program history, as well as in an AAC game (16); most assists in an AAC game (28); biggest margin of victory in an AAC game (46); and most points scored in an AAC game (97).

The Huskies went 16-for-24 (66.7 percent) beyond the arc, making it the single-best 3-point performance from the Huskies since they hit 15 against Hartford in 1997. Christian Vital added four 3-pointers of his own, Jalen Adams went 6-for-8 from 3-point range and Rodney Purvis went 6-for-9.

“Coach doesn’t really like us taking a whole bunch of threes, so he really likes it more when we get to the rim,” Adams said. “But tonight they were falling so we had to shoot them.”

Purvis and Vital each had five assists to complement Adams’ 10, which is no small feat for someone who is ninth in the nation with 6.6 assists per game.

The points scored were a testament to how many shots fell for UConn. They went 35-for-56 (62.5 percent) from the field, coupled by the record-breaking performance from 3-point range. They didn’t get to the line that much, but going 11-for-14 from the charity stripe is enough to satisfy even the most critical of observers.

“We were driving, that’s why we were getting the easy shots, so I was passing up open shots to get the greater shot. We were driving to the basket trying to create for each other and get the kick out guy and he was able to make shots,” Purvis said of the shooting performance.

All of these records mean a lot more than just free wings. It means that UConn is finally beating bad opponents like they ought to—by complete and utter pulverization.

PENULTIMATE PURVIS

The Huskies began with perhaps the best performance all year, going 7-for-10 from the field to start the game coupled with holding USF to 0-for-8 from the floor until seven minutes into the game. It was a collective effort from the squad; Jalen Adams, Kentan Facey and Amida Brimah all collected a good number of points, but Rodney Purvis stole the show during the scoring barrage that helped UConn go up 26-8 with 7:34 to go in the first half and helped them pull away in the second half.

In his second-to-last Gampel game as a Husky, Purvis finished the game with 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting, including going 6-for-9 from three with five assists and three rebounds as icing on the cake.

Looking at the stat sheet from tonight’s game barely scratches the surface of how well Purvis has performed lately. In his last four games (not including tonight), he has shot 45.5 percent from the field and 52.4 percent from three, averaging a team-best 16 points per game.

“It’s perfect timing. We got seven more games of his last year so it’s good to send him out on a high note,” Adams said of Purvis’s elevated gameplay.

Considering he started the year by taking well over 15 shots per game and barely hitting a quarter of them, it seems like the senior is at long last starting to play consistently. And although his efforts may ultimately get buried in UConn history amidst an injury-ridden season, it doesn’t discount the fact that it’s clear he’s giving it everything he’s got before he’s gone.

He hit his first three shots to start the first half. He hit two 3-pointers to start the second half and helped take UConn’s 10-point lead to an 18-point lead, and hit the 20-point threshold not even three minutes into the back half of the game.

“It feels good. I’m just trying to win. It hasn’t really hit me that it’s winding down yet, cause, you know, how up-and-down it’s been. I’m just trying to cherish each and every day,” Purvis said. “It definitely feels good to start playing well, my teammates playing well and us getting a win.”


Stephanie Sheehan is the associate managing editor for The Daily Campus, covering men’s basketball. She can be reached via email at stephanie.sheehan@uconn.edu. She tweets @steph_sheehan.