With Shabazz Napier sidelined due to a sprained right foot, UConn coughed up nearly twice as many turnovers (15) as it dished out assists (8) and fell 61-56 to Cincinnati Saturday.
Some notes, quotes and links from Fifth Third Arena:
*Shabazz Napier’s sprained right foot is clearly a problem. Omar Calhoun’s sprained wrist won’t heal until the season ends. Niels Giffey suffered what is believed to be a “dislocation fracture” of his right index finger. Enosch Wolf (remember him?) isn’t coming back this season. Getting win No. 20 may be more difficult than we thought.
*Kevin Ollie on Napier’s absence: “You can’t fill in the slack for Shabazz. Shabazz is one of the best players in the Big East. We just played with heart, guys, I keep telling you, if we play with heart and defense and rebound, we’re going to be in the game. We’re not the prettiest team in America. We’re not going to make every shot. But we’re going to play defense and play with heart and hopefully that’s enough.”
*Phil Nolan (eight points, seven rebounds) played the best game of his freshman season. The 6-foot-9 forward did, however, miss the first of two free throw attempts with 20 seconds remaining and UConn trailing by two.
“He didn’t make the free throw, but he isn’t the last guy who’s going to make a free throw or miss a free throw,” Ollie said. “I just want him to keep his head up. I don’t want him to get discouraged.”
Nolan played over starter Tyler Olander, who exited at the 18:22 mark of the second half and never came back.
*Napier said he woke up Saturday morning and felt it wasn’t possible to play basketball.
“It’s so difficult — I was thinking about getting dressed at halftime,” he said. “I don’t like missing games. I’ve fought through a whole bunch of injuries, but this one I just couldn’t do.”
*Late turnovers doomed the Huskies. Down one with 20 seconds left, R.J. Evans had an inbounds pass tipped by Cincinnati’s Titus Rubles and picked off by Sean Kilpatrick. Down three, Ryan Boatright committed a backcourt violation.
“If (Napier) plays, we’re the team we’ve been all year,” Boatright said. “If he doesn’t play, we just have to find a way like we did today. We stuck in the game. We just have to figure out a way to pull it out. It’s very frustrating.”