Dec. 18, 2012
By Scott Waggoner
In the spirit of the holidays, the Connecticut men’s basketball team appears to be in the giving mood. The Huskies dished out a season-high 21 assists on their way to an 84-50 victory over Maryland Eastern Shore Monday night at the XL Center.
UConn shot an incredible 66 percent from the field, hitting open shots that were setup by timely passing from the Connecticut guards.
“I was very happy with the ball movement,” Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie said. “We’re playing well together and the offensive execution is what I wanted to see.”
Husky guard Shabazz Napier once again got his teammates involved early and finished the game with eight assists to go along with 11 points. It was the second straight game the junior had at least eight assists.
“I’m a point guard and if I see my teammates on fire I’m going to give them the ball,” Napier said. “When they’re hot I can give them the ball and let them go, which makes it easier for myself to be able to get into the lane.”
Freshman guard Omar Calhoun bounced back nicely after two disappointing games, going 8 of 11 from the field for a season-high 22 points.
“I was upset with how I was playing and I was ready to get into the gym a little extra and work on different things,” Calhoun said. “I’ve been able to feel my game out a little better over this break so I should be back rolling.”
Calhoun and sophomore guard Ryan Boatright were especially efficient from long range. They combined to shoot eight of 10 from the three-point line, and Boatright said their hot shooting stemmed from the extra time they put in working on their shot.
“I’ve been just going in the gym and shooting extra shots,” Boatright said. “The more shots you put up and the more repetition you get, the more your shot’s going to look good.”
Despite Connecticut’s quick start, the Hawks stuck around in the first half, outrebounding the Huskies 18 to 14. In the second half, UConn’s defensive execution matched what they were doing on offense, and the Huskies were able to pull away.
“We need to have the assertiveness to go out and have that killer mindset,” Ollie said. “Defense comes down to toughness and that’s what we did better in the second half.”
Rebounding remains a concern for UConn, who lost the advantage on the boards for the third straight game. Connecticut can’t count on shooting over 65 percent every night, and the Huskies will have to grab more rebounds when they start BIG EAST play.
“We still have to do a better job rebounding because when we play bigger and better opponents we can’t just rely on shooting,” Napier said.
The Huskies will look to continue their hot shooting when they take on Fordham on Friday at the XL Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised by SNY and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network.