Coming off a 10-point loss to No. 8 Wichita State, the UConn men's basketball team heads down to Tulsa in search of their first conference win.
The Huskies (7-6, 0-1 the American) played the Shockers well for the first 35 minutes before letting the game slip away in the end. Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier both had 18 points and Christian Vital added 17 in the loss.
The game was slow offensively for both teams, but the Huskies’ bigger issue was with scoring distribution. The rest of the team combined to score nine points, and three starters—David Onuorah, Antwoine Anderson and Isaiah Whaley—didn’t score a single point. If the Huskies hope to build off a close game to a tough opponent, their lineup must start scoring more, something Vital isn't worried about.
"We do know Terry, Jalen and I, we are the three scorers on the team, but I believe that my teammates area definitely going to be able to put more points on the board,” Vital said after Saturday’s 72-62 loss.
UConn is 3-3 against Tulsa (9-5, 2-0 the American) since joining the American, but have never won a game at Tulsa’s Reynolds Center, including last year’s 61-59 overtime loss in their only matchup of the season against the Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa has already notched two conference wins, including a 26-point home win over East Carolina and their most recent win, a 65-56 victory over Tulane. In that game, four Tulsa players recorded double digit points and out-rebounded the Green Wave 52-30.
Redshirt senior Junior Etou is far and away Tulsa’s best player, averaging 17.9 points per game on 53.7 percent shooting from the floor and 6.9 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-8 forward is also dangerous from beyond the arc, shooting 40.5 percent. He has averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds in his last two games and was awarded conference player of the week because of it.
Junior guard DaQuan Jeffries, who has missed the last six games with a broken finger, may return tonight, which could potentially spell trouble for UConn. Jeffries shot 62.1 percent from the field and hit nine of his 18 3-point attempts before and is arguably the Hurricane’s best defender.
The Golden Hurricane won’t post much of a height challenge to UConn—none of their players is taller than 6-foot-9—and the Huskies are coming off a relatively good rebounding performance against Wichita State. While Tulsa averages 2 percent more rebounds than UConn, the two teams should be evenly matched on the defensive end.
With UConn’s assist totals still an area of concern, the Huskies will either have to start moving the ball more effectively or hope that the rotation of players can start connecting from mid and long range. Tulsa shoots 45 percent from the floor and UConn 40 percent.
The game is set to begin a 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPNEWS.