By Erica Brancato
The UConn men’s basketball team came out strong on Thursday and never looked back to defeat American Athletic Conference leader Tulsa by a 70-45 count.
The Huskies chemistry clicked this game as the players were in sync and UConn played their most complete game of the season. The Golden Hurricane’s were caught off guard as the Huskies had an extremely strong start to the game. UConn went on a 10-0 run before Tulsa could even score a point. The Huskies defense was sturdy and relentless as they made the frustrated Golden Hurricane work for their points.
“UConn played great,” Tulsa’s head coach Frank Haith said. “They were outstanding. They shot the ball well, particularly in the second half. Defensively, they were really good. We really struggled scoring around the basket, but they whipped us in every aspect of the game. They were tougher, quicker to the ball. They played with way more aggression…they played the game the way you play to win the game.”
Though Tulsa stayed close behind throughout most of the game, UConn’s energy was undeniable as they outhustled their opponent. The Huskies’ defense was the catalyst to their phenomenal transition game. On the run, UConn outpaced Tulsa and was able to make quick and efficient plays to score points.
Daniel Hamilton racked up his third double-double this season with 11 rebounds and 11 points. Hamilton not only leads the Huskies in rebounds but he leads the league as well.
“He’s just doing a wonderful job,” head coach Kevin Ollie said. “He’s a ball hunter… I like his aggressiveness. He’s getting the rebounds and that allows us to get out on the fast break, because when he’s rebounding he’s able to have the ability to push. We really have like four guys that can just push the basketball so it really allows us to get into transition and space the court a lot.”
Ryan Boatright’s determination to stay prevalent in the postseason hunt was a huge driving factor for this team. The senior captain led the Huskies with 23 points and eight assists. Amida Brimah played both a strong defense and offense as he racked up seven blocks and nine points, frustrating Tulsa from both ends of the court.
“They are practicing very, very hard,” Ollie said. “They are coming in and paying attention to detail… the guys are executing. It’s not just executing when we play, it’s really the two-hour practices… and that’s the thing that’s getting us over the hump and keeping us in games. So we want to keep having that and keep getting better and better every day.”
UConn’s energy and stability were huge factors in the game. They were able to produce and play with the urgency and consistency they have been looking for all season. This game gave the Huskies a great deal of confidence. With their extra work and dedication to succeed beyond the regular season, UConn looks to keep their momentum up.
“The sky’s the limit,” Boatright said. “As long as we keep doing what we are doing, working extremely hard in practice and as long as the chemistry stays strong the sky’s the limit.”