The Huskies held off Southern Connecticut, 70-62, in the preseason opener with senior point guard Ryan Boatright leading the way with 19 points. Junior college transfer Sam Cassell Jr. added 17 and sophomore center Amida Brimah had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
UConn shot 29 percent from the field in the first half and trailed 32-29. After the break, they shot 45 percent and outscored Southern Connecticut 41-30.
"We forced a lot of shots but that’s why they call it an exhibition," coach Kevin Ollie said after the game. "We’ll get better from it and make sure we come out and play a little harder against Assumption. We got the first one out of the way and we’ll just keep building forward. That’s what life’s all about. That’s what basketball is all about, and we’ll get better from it."
The Huskies out rebounded the Owls, 55-39, and scored 13 points off 12 turnovers. Still, it was a shaky start for the defending national champs.
"I’m always glad to get a win. But it was a grind," Boatright conceded. "It was ugly. It was definitely an ugly win. We’re a young team. Everybody was a little nervous, jitters and stuff like that. I’m just happy we grinded. I see the potential we have. We can be a great team. We just have to clean a lot of stuff up."
NC State transfer Rodney Purvis was just 2 for 12 from the field and finished with 7 points in 23 minutes of action.
Next up: UConn faces Assumption Sunday at noon in its second exhibition game.