Well, that went well. The Huskies, without freshman Boatright for another Big East game, fell to Cincinnati, 70-67, at Gampel Pavilion on Wednesday night. One of Jim Calhoun's fears heading into the game was that the Huskies' perimeter defense might struggle without Boatright. He didn't come out and say that -- Calhoun's been hesitant to mention Boatright's situation for fear of saying the wrong thing -- but he acknowledged the Bearcats' ability from behind the arc and it was a concern.
Unlike the decision to go with a bigger lineup against Notre Dame last weekend to shore up UConn's presence on the boards, ideally, Calhoun could've used more three-guard looks against Cincy. Except that was complicated by Boatright's absence. And by the time it was over, the Bearcats had nailed 11 threes, including the one that left Sean Kilpatrick's fingers with 2.7 seconds remaining that proved to be the difference.
Kilpatrick scored 16 points and four other Bearcats ended the evening in double-figures. Cincinnati's 3-point field-goal percentage (42.3 percent) was higher than their total field-goal percentage (41.9 percent), which gets back to Calhoun's initial concerns.
"We weren’t very mentally tough today, and they were," Calhoun said afterwards. And that’s a credit to Mick (Cronin) and his team. When it came down to it, they were tougher than we were. ...
"We gave up 11 three point shots…The one at the end happens," he continued. "That happens in basketball. I’m not worried about that. I’m much more concerned with the two that we gave up when it had gone to a two or three point lead, and then we started gambling again. The same thing that got us in trouble before."
Something else Calhoun is concerned about: that this team doesn't resemble the one that played so well in March and April a year ago.
"I just had a little talk with Kemba about a couple of players that he played with and he said 'it doesn’t look like them.' And that’s exactly how I feel, too. It doesn’t look like them."
Calhoun didn't name names, but Shabazz Napier had 27 points and 7 assists in 38 minutes of action. That's very Kemba-ian. And Jeremy Lamb added 14 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. But Alex Oriakhi managed just two points in 26 minutes which has to disappoint, well, everyone.
Calhoun didn't speak to the media bout Oriakhi's effort but he did weigh in on Napier -- "Shabazz wasn’t great, but he was gutty. I thought he was competitive." -- and Lamb -- "He’s the guy we want to go to. He got 12 shots up, which is remarkable he even got those. He wasn’t very good on either end of the floor. He’s a very, very good basketball player, and he’s got to play better than that for us to be good."
The Huskies came into the game ranked 11th. Now 14-4 (3-2 in the Big East), UConn will regroup before playing their last nonconference game of the regular season when they face Tennessee Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.