Jim Calhoun didn’t like how things were going in the first 47 seconds of the game on Monday night against the No. 8/7 West Virginia Mountaineers. So the calmer, gentler Calhoun did what he could to spurn his UConn Huskies team on. He called a timeout and picked up a technical foul.
This worked to perfection for Calhoun as his charges responded with a 14-1 run and they got some calls as the Huskies went on to upset the Mountaineers 73-62 in front of 15,082 and a nationally-televised audience on ESPN at the XL Center in Hartford, CT.
It’s the third win in as many games for the Huskies as they improve to 17-11 (7-8 Big East). It also improves their chances of an NCAA tourney bid with another resume-building win. Earlier in the day, the Huskies were on of the last four teams out according to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi. This will certainly change now. The Mountaineers fall to 21-6 (10-5 Big East).
Fresh off being named Big East Player of the Week, Kemba Walker once again led the Huskies with 21 points and had four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Jerome Dyson added 17 points, two rebounds and two assists while Stanley Robinson had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Before fouling out, Gavin Edwards had 11 points and six rebounds. Ater Majok also fouled out for the Huskies after scoring just three points and pulling down to rebounds.
Devin Ebanks led West Virginia with 17 points and nine rebounds. Kevin Jones chipped in with 12 points and six rebounds while Da’Sean Butler added 9 points and five rebounds.
The Huskies fell behind 5-0 before the timeout and Calhoun’s technical at the 47 second mark of the game. After Wellington Smith missed both free throws, UConn responded with a 9-0 run that was part of an eventual 14-1 run to open up an eight-point lead.
West Virginia battled back though to cut the lead to two points at 15-13. The Huskies then went on a 13-0 run midway through the half to open up a 15 point lead. The Mountaineers didn’t collapse as they fought back with a 10-1 run to cut the lead down to five points.
UConn finished out the half outscoring the Mountaineers 9-5 to take a 37-28 lead at the break.
The Mountaineers came out strong in the second half as the Huskies couldn’t pull away. West Virginia would cut the lead down to one at 53-52 with 8:47 to go in the game. But the Mountaineers would get no closer than two points the rest of the way as the Huskies stayed strong, hitting their free throws and closing the door on the Mountaineers.
They are now 3-1 since Calhoun’s return and have been playing their basketball of the season since the embarrassing loss to the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Huskies need to continue this type of play as they close out the season. Just three games remain plus the Big East Tournament for the Huskies.
Another step in their NCAA Tourney hopes comes on Sunday when the Louisville Cardinals come to Gampel Pavilion in the final home game for the seniors. Tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally on CBS.
Notes and musings:
The starters were Kemba Walker, Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson, Ater Majok and Charles Okwandu.
The Huskies shot 41.8% (20-of-48) from the floor while the Mountaineers shot 44.2% (23-of-52).
UConn had just eight assists on their 20 made baskets.
The big difference in the game was the amount of times the Huskies got to the free throw line. They went to the line 42 times while the Mountaineers went just 23 times. The Huskies were 30-of-42 (71.4%) while the Mountaineers struggled shooting 52.2% (12-of-23).
Walker was outstanding at the free throw line as he was 14-of-17.
West Virginia came as the best rebounding team in the Big East. However, they were outrebounded by UConn 37-33.
The Huskies outscored the Mountaineers 30-26 in the paint.
UConn had 26 points off of 13 WVU turnovers. The Mountaineers had just six point off of 10 UConn turnovers.