As of Saturday, UConn’s story includes a 19-7 overall record, a 9-5 Big East mark and another romp over DePaul.
Unlike the Jan. 8 blowout, this one was close for a while. The Blue Demons led 37-34 at the half before UConn tightened its defense and kept rolling offensively.
In a homecoming, Ryan Boatright scored 17 points, including a one-handed jam and a pretty no-look, behind-the-back assist. Omar Calhoun added 17 more and Shabazz Napier was “awesome” (in Kevin Ollie’s words), totaling 28 points and grabbing a team-high seven rebounds.
UConn’s three guards shot a combined 22-of-35 from the floor. They scored 62 of the Huskies’ 81 points.
“It starts with our guards, on defense and on offense,” said UConn coach Kevin Ollie. “When they’re engaged, and everybody is in their gaps and in their positions, we’re a real good team.”
*After coming one point from matching his career-high in points (29), Napier’s Big East Player of the Year candidacy actually took a hit. That’s only because Otto Porter Jr. was outstanding in Georgetown’s win over Syracuse, netting 33 points. Of course, Porter and the first-place Hoyas visit Gampel on Wednesday. A UConn win would put the Huskies at 10-5 in the league, one game out of first. But that’s for another time…
*Omar Calhoun, dealing with a sprained right wrist, made 7-of-11 field goal attempts. He said the injury occurred early in the Villanova game when Wildcats forward James Bell tried to take a charge on Calhoun.
“Usually sprains take like 2-3 weeks to heal completely,” Calhoun said. “So it’s still affecting me but it’s getting better and better every day.”
*If you bet the 26th game for Ollie’s first technical, you’re the winner (for the record, I had the second Big East game of next season). Ollie was T’d up about midway through the first half Saturday.
“I was almost at the halfcourt line — I don’t know why my assistant coaches didn’t grab me back, so I’m blaming them,” Ollie joked afterwards. “…(The referee) had to do it, I was way out there. I lost my mind for a second.”
Napier “congratulated” Ollie on the technical.
“I said, ‘give it up for coach Ollie, he got his first technical. He’s on his way to being coach Calhoun,’” Napier said with a laugh.
*An NBA Scout said he was impressed with Boatright, but noted that he’s probably not yet ready for the draft. He wasn’t too keen on Napier leaving early, either. The scout said that DeAndre Daniels — who has prototypical NBA wing length — is the team’s best pro prospect.
*I’d be remiss to not mention the DePaul student section, which belligerent at tipoff and still pretty drunk by the end. They pointed out that the collar of my shirt needed to be fixed (which I appreciate) and then proceeded to bash everyone from Kevin Ollie to the student managers. Insults ranged from “UConn sucks” to “Your managers suck” to “Boatright sucks.”
Really, though, their chants sucked. Except this one: “Win or lose, we still booze.”