Against the University of New Hampshire on Thursday night, it was another sluggish outing for the Huskies but just like their previous win over Stony Brook, they got the win even if it wasn't particularly pretty.
UNH kept things close almost the entire way and trailed by just four points before they were forced to foul and the Huskies eventually ended up 61-53 winners. For some perspective on the differences between these two teams, even if it wasn't reflected in the final score, New Hampshire was coming off three straight losses to Bryant, NJIT, and Holy Cross. UConn, meanwhile, had a season-opening win over Michigan State and was ranked No. 21 in the nation before losing to New Mexico in last week's Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
That said, It was hard to tell these two teams apart while watching them Thursday at the XL Center. Some of that had to do with guard Shabazz Napier, who struggled on 2-of-9 shooting and scored just five points. Two of the five game in the first 20 minutes. For the record, in the last six games, Napier has scored a grand total of 14 first-half points.
The Huskies could have used Napier, obviously, but his off night allowed his teammates to step up; freshman Ryan Boatright was good for 19 and freshman Omar Calhoun added 16 more. They were the only two UConn players to reach double figures in a game where the team shot 37 percent from the floor and went an abysmal 1-for-14 from behind the arc.
"We were just a little out of it offensively," Calhoun admitted. "We played some good defense today. Our offense just wasn’t that great."
"A win is a win, Boatright added. "I’m happy we got the win. We played OK. We could have played better. We’ve got some improving to do."
On the upside, the Huskies outrebounded the UNH 40-39. But Kevin Ollie's team is going to have to do much better than that as the competition improves in the coming weeks.
"We know that we’re going to get everybody’s best game, and they came out and played and performed," Ollie said. "Our guys didn’t perform the way we wanted to perform, but we found a way to win. Going one for 14 from the three-point line, and the different things we did in the course of the game – 13 turnovers to a team that wasn’t really pressuring us – is something that we’ve got to cut down on. We definitely have to shoot better going down to Madison Square Garden.
"At the end of the day, we did out rebound them, which is a good, positive thing. But we’ve just got to shoot better. I’m not going to have a pity party, because that’s not who I am," Ollie continued. "We had a good win and I’m not going to apologize for it."
If the Huskies play like this against NC State on Tuesday they'll get blown out of Madison Square Garden.