For as smoothly as November and December were for the Huskies, January has been just as difficult. Kevin Ollie's team, ranked as high as 10th in the country at one point, entered Wednesday's game against Harvard coming off back-to-back road conference losses at Houston and SMU.
And the Crimson, who were without their leading scorer, didn't exactly roll over for UConn as they tried to get back on track. But behind two DeAndre Daniels free throws that but the game out of reach late, the Huskies again found themselves in the win column ahead of a tough stretch of American Athletic Conference games.
"This was a must-win," Ryan Boatright said. "We lost two in a row. If we lost three in a row, that would have been terrible for us."
Senior guard Shabazz Napier led the Huskies with 18 points, followed by Boatright (14) and Daniels (11). But another slow start saw UConn trail 31-26 at the half mounting a comeback in the final 30 minutes.
"It wasn't a big time offensive game, but I'm very excited, I'm happy for my team," Ollie said afterwards. "We just grinded it out. We couldn't make a shot, but we stuck together, and we were connected. We gave up a couple of bad possessions the last part of the game, and they just stayed together. That last stop is what UConn basketball is all about. We gutted that one out and I'm proud of my guys. ...
"It wasn't the best offensive game, but that doesn't matter. We got a win. Now we're focused on UCF and we're going to try to get our first American win. We will if we play like this."
UConn is now 12-3 on the season (0-2 in the AAC) and their next game, as Ollie mentioned, is against conference opponent UCF on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion.