Apparently, a bum ankle isn't enough to keep Jeremy Lamb down. There was some concern as to whether he'd play at all Sunday afternoon against Coppin State, and not only did Lamb play, by the time it was over, he was the leading scorer.
The Huskies won 87-70 and Lamb added 25 points in 37 minutes of work. Meanwhile, backcourt mate Shabazz Napier, who has dealing with his own bumps and bruises (including a trip to the dentist's chair earlier in the week), outdid Lamb, registering a triple-double. In 39 minutes of work, Napier had 22 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds.
Coach Jim Calhoun had a chat with Napier an hour prior to tip-off, when Lamb's status was still in doubt.
"He basically said run the team, be a leader, stay out of foul trouble and make sure we win the game," Napier said, according to the Associated Press.
Calhoun should say that before every game.
"He was really good today. I don't care who we were playing, he was really good," Calhoun said of Napier, who committed just one turnover. "He threw some terrific passes. He went in and rebounded. Obviously he made big-time shots."
Lamb sprained his ankle during Saturday's practice and he didn't find out until 15 minutes before Sunday's game that he would play.
"Yesterday (Saturday) I kept saying I was going to play, but in the back of my mind I didn't think I could. And this morning I was out on the court and I really couldn't move," Lamb said. "Then I went up and dunked it and it kind of stretched it out. I don't know what it did but I started moving a little better."
Not surprisingly, Lamb got off to a slow start against Coppin State, but it didn't take long for adrenaline and skill to take over; he scored 12 straight points -- seven to end the first half and five more to begin the second.
The Huskies led 41-34 at the break but the seven-point lead required some effort. Road-weary Coppin State, which lost to Oklahoma Friday night, led by 13 points in the first half before UConn went on a 27-7 run.
"[Coppin State Head Coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell] continues to amaze," Calhoun said. "Being blasted on Friday night at Oklahoma, traveling all day....and getting here and having to play at one o'clock. It's difficult. He continues to amaze me how good a job he does. They're a senior team, I think they'll be pretty good in their league. He just said to me "the toughest kid you have is the little guy with the ball." And he's a hundred percent right about that."
Mitchell was just as laudatory when talking about Napier's effort.
"It was magnificent, his performance," he said. "I told my coaches I haven't seen a triple-double in a long time especially from a point guard. I mean that's really unbelievable. That tells you a lot about his heart. Anytime you get 12 defensive rebounds and you're a point guard, you're going in there and mixing it."
Here is a list of the previous Huskies to have triple-doubles:
Shabazz Napier 11/20/11 vs. Coppin St. 22p, 13a, 12r
Kemba Walker - 12/3/10 vs. UMBC - 24p, 13r, 10a
Hasheem Thabeet - 1/31/09 vs. Providence - 15p, 11r, 10b
Marcus Williams - 2/21/06 vs. Notre Dame - 18p, 10r, 13a
Ben Gordon - 12/20/03 vs. Iona - 17p, 16r, 11a
Emeka Okafor - 12/6/03 vs. Army - 18p, 15r, 10b
Caron Butler - 12/26/00 vs. URI - 14p, 12r, 11a
Doron Sheffer - 12/30/95 vs. Hartford - 10p, 10r, 11a
Donyell Marshall - 1/17/94 vs. Hartford - 23p, 11r, 10b