The No. 18-ranked Louisville Cardinals came into Storrs, Conn. and out-worked the UConn Huskies in the first half.
By the time the home team woke up in the second half, it was too late to prevent the 76-64 loss. The win sent Louisville to a 16-3 record overall and 5-1 in the American Athletic Conference. The Huskies dropped to 14-4 and 2-3 in the AAC.
UConn head coach Kevin Ollie wasn't around for the end of the game. A missed foul call sent Ollie into a hissy fit on the sidelines.
Officials quickly whistled him for two technicals which is an automatic ejection.
Fans complained about the calls on social media, and at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, but as David Borges of the New Haven Register points out, the officials didn't cause the Huskies this game.
Aside from Shabazz Napier, no Huskie had much of an impact offensively. Napier led all scorers with 30 points, but only one other UConn player reached double figures in scoring.
Louisville was led by Montrezl Harrell who was a force as a scorer and rebounder. The 6'8" sophomore had 18 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.
The Turning Point
After Louisville took a six-point lead into the half, UConn was able to tie the game up on a three by Napier with 18:40 remaining in the game.
The Cardinals responded with a 11-0 run to seize command. Luke Hancock scored six points during this stretch, including a sweet reverse lay up that turned into a three-point play.
UConn picked up their intensity to keep things interesting, but the Huskies couldn't recover.
Key Stat: Rebounds
Louisville pounded the Huskies on the glass 45-30. UConn didn't shoot the ball well all night, but it could have overcome this issue had it rebounded better.
Courier-Journal reporter Tim Sullivan had more on this factor from Ollie's perspective:
To put things in perspective, Harrell and Hancock out-rebounded the entire UConn starting five 18-16.
As Borges points out, UConn settled for jump shots most of the night, and this was largely due to the impact Harrell and Mangok Mathiang had as rim protectors.
Sometimes, there are concerns about how well a team can rebound out of a zone—even matchup zones, but as ESPN's Seth Greenberg recognizes, the Cardinals' defense was on point on Saturday night.
Montrezl Harrell, A+
Harrell's game is coming along nicely. This was the most complete performance he's had all year. Performing this way in a crucial and highly competitive conference road game is impressive.
He should only get better as the season progresses.
Shabazz Napier, A+
You couldn't have asked for Napier to do much more than he did on Saturday. He made five three-pointers, shot 13 free throws and pulled in four rebounds.
This was just an extension of a stellar year for the senior guard. He just didn't get much help in this one.
Ryan Boatright, B-
Although he picked up his intensity in the second half and started to attack, it was too late to change the outcome of the game. Boatright scored 10 points and had a few pretty drive-and-dish plays, but wasn't the factor UConn needed him to be overall.
DeAndre Daniels, D+
The biggest bust of the night was Daniels. After picking up his second foul at the 13:57 mark, he was taken out of his game. He didn't play aggressive; he wasn't a force on the glass, or as an offensive threat.
Daniels had just three points on 1-for-9 shooting.
Russ Smith, B
Early on, Smith showed us the bad side of his Russdiculousness, but he ultimately settled down. He committed four turnovers, but he attacked the basket relentlessly. He shot 15 free throws and scored a team-high 23 points on 5-for-13 shooting.
Luke Hancock, B-
He didn't make a huge impact the entire game, but during the key stretch, Hancock was the most valuable player on the floor. He finished the game with 13 points and five rebounds.
Hancock played an excellent floor game for the defending champions on Saturday night.
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