Nov. 26, 2013
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Junior forward DeAndre Daniels(Los Angeles, Calif.) scored 18 of his 21 points and pulled down all eight of his rebounds in the second half to lead the No. 13-ranked University of Connecticut men's basketball team to a 76-66 win over Loyola (Md.) on Tuesday night before a crowd of 9,497 at the XL Center. UConn remains undefeated on the season at 7-0 while the Greyhounds are 4-1.
"If you want to be good, if you want to be great then you can't play like that," said UConn head coach Kevin Ollieof what he told Daniels at halftime. "I don't care if you score another basket, but you need to pick your energy level up. And that's what he did. And he played outstanding."
Junior guard Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) added 13 points and eight boards for the Huskies and graduate student Lasan Kromah(Greenbelt, Md.) chipped in a season-high 12 points. Kromah also spent a lot of time guarding Loyola's top player, Dylon Cormier, whose 23 points was seven under his season average.
Cormier's three-pointer early in the second half cut what had been a 15-point UConn lead to a 38-35 advantage. Kromah then gave the Huskies some breathing room, hitting a three-pointer, then stealing the ball and going in for a layup that put the Huskies up 61-50. A three-pointer by Daniels closed the 10-2 run and gave UConn a 14-point lead.
"I'm just a guy coming in who can add some energy, show some defensive presence and help out on defense and rebounding, steals, points, whichever way," Kromah said.
The Greyhounds cut the lead to nine late, but couldn't get closer.
"In a place like this a five-point game can turn into a 10-point game pretty quick," said Loyola coach G.G. Smith, the son of Texas Tech's Tubby Smith.
Both teams got off to slow starts, shooting a combined 3 of 11 from the field in the first 4 minutes, leaving the game tied at 4-4 going into the first media timeout. Senior Niels Giffey(Berlin, Germany) hit a three-pointer and dunked the ball the next two times down the court, sparking a 9-0 run that gave UConn a 15-6 lead.
Connecticut extended the run to 17-3 before Loyola's R.J. Williams banked in a straight-on three-pointer to cut the lead to 23-12. Giffey (9) and Kromah (5) came off the bench to account for 14 points before halftime.
The Greyhounds closed the first half on a 7-0 run. A driving layup by Cormier cut the lead to 34-26 at the break and he hit another layup to open the second half.
"We get up 15 points and then we give the lead up again," Ollie said. "I want to get up 15 points and then I want to go up 25. I don't want to go back down to five. And that's the way we've been playing in some of these games and great teams don't do that."
Cormier had 13 points in the first six minutes of the second half, but didn't score again until hitting a pair of foul shots with 1:23 left that cut UConn's lead to nine. Daniels, meanwhile, was hitting five of his nine second-half shots, and pulling down four rebounds on each end of the court.
"I got a couple easy rebounds, a couple of easy putbacks, and that got me going," he said.
The Huskies were outrebounded by the Greyhounds 40-39.
Connecticut, which led the nation in blocked shots every year between 2002 and 2009, had 11 against Loyola. Daniels and freshman center Amida Brimah(Accra, Ghana) each had three. The Huskies' seven-foot freshman center has 24 this season.
Connecticut hasn't lost a nonconference game at home to an unranked opponent since falling to Indiana, 77-73 in Hartford in January 2007.
The Huskies return to action next Monday when they play host to Florida at Gampel Pavilion at 7:00 p.m. That game will be televised on ESPN2 and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Network.