Kevin Ollie's Huskies played well for 38 minutes against seventh-ranked Cincinnati last week but came up just short. Against UCF on Sunday, UConn was clicking on all cylinders thanks, in part, to the return of junior forward DeAndre Daniels. When it was over, the Huskies left Orlando with a 75-55 victory, which moved them to 18-5 on the season and 6-4 in the AAC.
Senior guard Shabazz Napier and transfer Lasan Kromah led the way with 17 points each, and Daniels added 16 points while Ryan Boatright and Phillip Nolan also scored in double figures (11 and 10 points, respectively).
UConn jumped out to a fast start, shooting 53 percent in the first half (including 4-of-9 from behind the arc) while holding UCF to just 35 percent shooting in that time. At the break, the Huskies led 41-24 before widening the lead in the final 20 minutes.
"We were just having fun," Shabazz Napier said, via the Hartford Courant, "playing basketball the way it's supposed to be played. Playing defense and just going with it."
"'Bazz was great with the ball pressure and that's what turned the momentum in the second half," Ollie added. "… with those two quick steals. That's what he can do; he's a great leader and he made us composed."
And Ollie was also impressed with the performance of the transfer Kromah. "Lasan was terrific," he said, "not only getting to the rim, he was all over the place. Shabazz was making terrific passes. Everyone was running, playing together, playing unselfish, not settling [for bad shots]. … That's what we're capable of doing."
Daniels, who missed two games with a right ankle injury, made his presence known upon his return. And any sustained success the Huskies are going to have down the stretch will be dependent on Daniels' play. For now, he was just happy to get back out on the court.
"I was a little rusty," Daniels conceded. "They tried to get me open early, and I felt like I rushed the shot. KO told me, 'settle down, let the game come to you.' And that's what I did. I'd give myself a 'D,' but the only thing that matters is we came away with the 'W.'"
Next up: The Huskies host USF this Wednesday.