If you’re just glancing at the score, UConn lost to a good Cincinnati team on the road without one of its best players.
But if you watched the game, you know the Huskies sort of let one get away.
Cincinnati 63, UConn 58 was the final Thursday night from Fifth Third Arena.
Here’s a few of the quick highlights:
— THE POSTGAME INTERVIEW area for visiting teams here is just outside the visitor’s locker room.
Well, the concrete walls that separated we scribes from the Huskies after this one weren’t thick enough. Suffice it to say, coach Kevin Ollie was pretty animated. And you can imagine why.
Cincinnati made 52 percent of its shots in the second half while UConn struggled to score at the same time.
“The defense was terrible. Second half it was bad,” Ollie said. “You can’t give up 52 percent. That’s bad. I don’t know any other way to sugar coat it.”
As for the offense late?
“We stopped moving the basketball,” Ollie said. “We were scoring on every time out. If y’all watch basketball, after every time out we scored. So, we moved the basketball. It wasn’t nothing they was doing. We stopped ourselves. We stayed on one side and we bailed out for 3-point shots. Again. Again.”
— IN WHAT WAS something of a showdown for AAC player of they year, Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick came up huge with 26 points (17 in the second half), 12 rebounds and six assists. UConn’s Shabazz Napier struggled, scoring 16 points but doing so on 5-of-19 shooting (2-of-12 from 3).
“I didn’t shoot the ball well. I didn’t play good basketball tonight and that lead to the loss,” Napier said. “I just had a bad shooting night. They definitely played good defense but they were getting away with a lot of cheap fouling. But sometimes you have to deal with it and I just couldn’t make a shot.”
Napier has bailed UConn out so many times this year, it’s hard to fault any of his shot selections. Even some of the ones that look terrible have gone in this season.
But the one with UConn down 57-55 with just over 30 seconds to play where he launched a deep 3? Well….
“We can’t settle. It’s a two-point game and we have to get to the rim. We can’t shoot 30-footers,” Ollie said. “Hopefully he keeps learning. You have to get to the rim. You have to put the onus on the ref in that situation.”
“I was trying to get up a shot, get up at least 2-for-1. Myself, I think I’m going to make the shot,” Napier said. “I just didn’t follow through the right way and it came up short.”
— THE GAME PITTED the American Athletic Conference’s leading overall scorer, Kilpatrick (19.4 ppg), against the league’s leader in conference games only, Napier (21.5 ppg).
— IT LOOKED AS if DeAndre Daniels was going to play Thursday. His ankle held up fine through the team’s shootaround and he came out onto the court before the game ready to go.
But Daniels’ back seized up and he was quickly back on the sidelines.
“I was fine in practice but before the game started, when we were doing our routine, my back just locked up on me and I couldn’t go,” Daniels said. “I can’t really, like, move.”
Napier said he didn’t realize Daniels was unavailable to play until after the game started.
At halftime, Daniels gave it another try.
“I thought I’d give it a try because they gave me a shot in my back. I don’t know what it does but they said it numbs all your muscles and relaxes it,” Daniels said. “But it didn’t really help that much and I had to shut it down.”
— FORMER HUSKY CENTER Andre Drummond asked UConn officials for a ticket to Thursday’s game and was planning to try and attend the game on what was an off-day for his NBA team, the Detroit Pistons.
Drummond had planned to stop in Cincinnati on his way back from a game in Orlando Wednesday but ultimately decided against it.
The Pistons lost in Orlando and are scheduled to host the Brooklyn Nets tonight in Detroit.
— IN OTHER UCONN injury news, guard Tor Watts missed Thursday’s game with a left ankle injury, though he did travel with the team.
Fellow walk-on Dan Guest was in uniform against Cincinnati, ostensibly in Watts’ place.