A look at the good, bad and ugly from UConn’s NCAA Tournament 89-81 overtime win against Saint Joe’s Thursday night in Buffalo:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- IT TAKES A TEAM: Shabazz Napier is the face of the program, but the Huskies got contributions from more than their star guard in advancing passed a gritty Saint Joe’s team. Four starters finished in double figures, they Huskies made 16 straight foul shots – 14-for-14 in OT – and Lasan Kromah excelled again at defensive stopper.
UConn coach Kevin Ollie’s take: “At the end of the day we wanted to outwork our opponent. It took a little longer than I thought, but fortunately we got it done in the end. We started making plays. It’s all on my players and I think them for having a great game for this great university.”
2. THE BIG BOYS DELIVER: DeAndre Daniels and Amida Brimah combined for 11 straight points at the end of regulation and into OT – none were bigger than Brimah’s three-point play to tie the game at 70 with 39 seconds left. Daniels’ three-point play in OT got rid of pest Halil Kanacevic, who fouled out trying to stop him. Combined, Daniels and Brimah had 27 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and went 6-for-6 from the foul line.
Ollie’s take: “DeAndre’s been stepping up and Amida’s been stepping up. If you followed our tournament in Memphis, they were both stepping up. I’ve seen them be more confident.”
3. NO EARLY EXIT FOR HIM: Ryan Boatright said prior to the game he didn’t want a Husky repeat of 2012 when they lost in their first NCAA game. The junior guard played like he wanted to stay in the tournament, hitting a couple big 3-pointers in the first half. He finished 4-for-6 on 3s, shot 5-for-10 from the field and had three assists with just one turnover in 42 minutes.
Ollie’s take: “He’s been a special player for us and we’re going to continue to keep getting him the right shots. … He was efficient with 17 points and that’s what we want his game to be at.”
WHAT NEEDS WORK
- BETTER BEGINNINGS: The Huskies fell behind by as many as 10 points in the first half and trailed 40-35 at halftime while being outplayed by the Hawks for 20 minutes. Saint Joe’s shot 56 percent (14-for-25) in the half and Langston Galloway scored 16 points.
UConn guard Shabazz Napier: “Any team any given day can beat a big team.”
2. ATTACK INSIDE: The Huskies have been excellent foul shooters this season, but they seem to forget that for almost 40 minutes by forgetting to attack in the paint. UConn was only 3-for-4 from the foul line in regulation, but went 15-for-16 in OT, including 14 straight.
Ollie’s take: “I think we made 15 (actually 16) in a row or something like that last half and that’s just phenomenal. If you come out to our practice (practices are closed to the media), we spend a lot of time on free throws.”
UConn vs. Villanova, 9:30 p.m. (CBS) Saturday – The former Big East rivals move their series to a big stage – the third round of the NCAAs. The Wildcats won the only meeting of last season, 70-61. The winner heads to New York for the Sweet 16.