HARTFORD, Conn. – The UConn men’s basketball team scored 70 of its 79 points in the paint on Monday night, cruising to a 79-63 victory over Merrimack in exhibition action at the XL Center. Redshirt junior Terry Larrier scored a game-high 17 points.
Roster depth was evident against the Warriors, as the Huskies had 10 different players score in the game – including three in double-figures. Redshirt freshman Mamadou Diarra and freshman Isaiah Whaley combined for 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting.
Not just the UConn offense was clicking on Monday, as the defense forced 22 turnovers by Merrimack – resulting in 22 points on the other end. The Huskies had 11 steals, with three apiece from Larrier and junior Jalen Adams.
In the second half, the Huskies held the Warriors to 32.3-percent shooting (10-of-31), which included a field goal drought of over seven minutes at one point. Khalief Crawford scored a team-high 12 points for Merrimack.
UConn’s youngsters provided highlights throughout the contest, with Whaley providing putback slams on back-to-back possessions. Polley added a dunk of his own in transition off a steal on the defensive end.
The Huskies mustered a 45-34 edge on the glass with 18 rebounds coming on offense, resulting in a 20-7 advantage in second-chance points.
UConn led 40-29 at the half and kept the momentum going in the second half, sinking six of its first 11 shots. Leading 56-44 at the 12:10 mark, the Huskies went on a 19-8 run over the next 7:39 to take its biggest lead of the game at 23 points.
Diarra, who fouled out of the Providence exhibition last Wednesday, was a focal point of the UConn offense in the post – scoring 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in just 10 minutes on the floor. The redshirt freshman missed all of 2016-17 due to injury.
Larrier remained the star of the night, though, hitting on eight of his 10 attempts from the field for 17 points. He added three rebounds, three assists and three steals to his stat line in front of a crowd of 3,861.
Following Monday’s victory, UConn and head coach Kevin Ollie turn their focus to Queens College on Sunday – the final exhibition game of the preseason. The game is part of a doubleheader with the women’s team at Gampel Pavilion.
Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (ET) against Queens, while the No. 1 UConn women take on Ashland at 1 p.m. (ET). Tickets are available for both games in Storrs.
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