A look at the good, bad and ugly from Tuesday night’s 90-66 victory over Temple at the XL Center:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS: The Huskies needed a pick-me-up after the Louisville loss and a bad Temple team provided it on the way to improving to 3-3 in The American. Maybe the only thing shocking about the win was just how bad the Owls don’t play defense.
Temple coach Fran Dunphy’s take: “We needed to manage the game a little better than we did. They have a lot of firepower.”
2. FOLLOW THE LEADER: Shabazz Napier said there was no special motivation for the game, but the senior guard set the tempo in the first half with 15 of his 27 points, including three 3-pointers. After the Owls pulled within 18-16, Napier made sure it never happened again with the Huskies’ 14-0 run.
UConn coach Kevin Ollie’s take: “He had a great game. He set the tone … It makes a coach’s job really easy when you have a point guard that knows the game as well as he does. (He) knows when to pick and choice his spots, but also get everybody involved.”
3. GOOD DEANDRE RETURNS: The bottom line is the Huskies – no matter who they are playing – have to have DeAndre Daniels on the floor and producing, especially on the glass where UConn enjoyed a 45-25 edge. After a slow start he finished the first half strong, then scored 21 of his career-high 31 points in the second half along with nine of his career-high 12 rebounds.
Ollie’s take: “He just came out with some fire. I don’t know what he ate, but we’re going to make sure we find out, and we’re going to keep him on that same plan. I mean every tipped ball (he went for). I mean early he wasn’t really scoring, but he was just going for every rebound. Some of them he wasn’t getting, but that activity and that energy, it always finds the basketball. And that’s what he did.”
4. NO STICKY FINGERS: Against Louisville, the Huskies would often put on 20-second dribble exhibitions and then hurry up to get a poor shot off. Not against the soft Owls’ defense. The ball flowed freely, the open man was found and the Huskies often got off uncontested shots – even 3s.
Ollie’s take: “The offense, the ball was not sticking at all. It was moving. I haven’t seen the tape yet, but I know I am going to be excited to see the ball moving the way it did.”
WHAT NEEDS WORK
- LET’S DO IT AGAIN: Outside of Louisville, the Huskies seem to have found a winning formula in the last few games. The trick now is to make sure they stay in their game plan when they tangle with more physical teams like Louisville.
Ollie’s take: “I did want to make sure we defended our house. I don’t think we did that with Louisville. I think Louisville knocked us out and we didn’t really give ourselves a chance in the ring. But tonight we were in the middle of the ring and we were fighting.”
2. TURNING UP THE DEFENSE: Ollie was not happy the Owls shot 44.4 percent (12-for-27) in the first half, but the Huskies held them to 33.3 (11-for-33) in the second half and 38.3 percent for the game.
Ollie’s take: “Our defense slipped a little bit, but I’m glad to see we got it back to 38 percent. I think they finished the half shooting 44 and that’s just not Connecticut defense.”
3. TURNOVERS: Not really a factor against the Owls, but Napier had four of the team’s eight turnovers in the second half.
BOATRIGHT UPDATE: Junior guard Ryan Boatright reportedly returned to Connecticut on Wednesday after he leaving the team to return home for the funeral of his cousin Arin Williams. UConn’s next game is at Rutgers at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“I talked to him right before the funeral (which was Tuesday),” Ollie said, after Tuesday win over Temple. “I just let him know we’re thinking about him and he sent me a text telling me to get that ‘W’ and get the players to rally around him. He’ll be back. But I know he has a heavy heart and I know his family is going to get through this by leaning on their god. It’s just a tough situation when a kid dies at 21 – I can’t even imagine what they are going through.”
Ollie did not have an exact return date, but said “you can’t miss too much school. You have to get back.”
When asked if he would be back for Rutgers, Ollie smiled and replied: “I hope so. He’s got school to go to; you can’t miss too much school.”