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UConn bounces back and routs Temple 90-66

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: The Day

Published January 22. 2014 4:00AM   Updated January 22. 2014 12:48PM
Fred Beckham/AP Photo
UConn's DeAndre Daniels, right, drives past Temple's Will Cummings during the first half of Tuesday night's American Athletic Conference game at the XL Center in Hartford. Daniels scored a career-high 31 points as the Huskies cruised to a 90-66 victory over the Owls.

Hartford - UConn maintained a smooth offensive rhythm Tuesday night.

When the Huskies do that, they're tough to beat.

Just ask Temple.

UConn had its highest scoring output in the American Athletic Conference, cruising to a 90-66 victory on a snowy night before 4,741 fans at the XL Center.

It's safe to say the Huskies won't get as many open shots in another game this season as they did against the defensively-challenged Owls (5-12, 0-6), who lost their seventh straight.

They kept the ball moving and kept attacking, taking advantage of open space all over the court.

"It makes the game a lot easier," coach Kevin Ollie said of the team's approach. "If you're not sharing the ball, you're not together as a unit. Tonight the ball was just popping.

"We (do) something called three beats. You hold the ball for three beats and then it's either pass, shoot or drive. … Hopefully, we continue to do that because everybody has fun out there and everybody is a threat. It's a free-flowing offense and that's what we want."

The Huskies (15-4, 3-3) rebounded nicely from Saturday's frustrating loss to Louisville despite playing without starter Ryan Boatright who attended his cousin's funeral back home in Aurora, Ill.

Junior DeAndre Daniels and senior Shabazz Napier more than picked up the scoring slack in Boatright's absence, pouring in a career-high 31 points and 27 points, respectively.

Daniels felt he had to make up for a three-point effort against Louisville.

"I had a bad game," Daniels said. "I felt like I let my teammates and fans down. But everybody has a bad game. Tonight, me and Shabazz wanted to be aggressive playing without Ryan Boatright. We just wanted to fill his spot in and be aggressive the whole night."

The Huskies found a ton more free looks than they did against Louisville, shooting 53.4 percent from the field, including 52.2 percent from 3-point land.

During one possession, Daniels was so wide open after catching a pass that he had time to sketch a picture of the basket before calmly sinking a 3-pointer. He had four his UConn's 12 3-pointers and Napier buried five from bonus land.

Daniels, who made 11 of 19 field goals and added a team-high 12 rebounds, explained why the Huskies had such an easy time scoring.

"We just kept running through our offense with pick-and-pops like we always do," Daniels said. "We were able to get to the paint and find guys open for threes and people were knocking down the shots."

The Huskies dominated in the rebounding department, matching their largest advantage in Ollie's two seasons as head coach. They held a 45-25 edge and Temple's Anthony Lee, the conference's top rebounder at 9.9 per game, had no rebounds in 29 minutes.

Napier came out in scoring mood, accounting for 15 points in the first 12 minutes while sparking the Huskies on a 23-5 run that turned an 11-9 deficit into a 32-16 lead. But he sat out the final 7:52 of the half with two fouls.

UConn lost some momentum before regrouping. Daniels scored the last seven points before intermission, handing the Huskies a 48-34 edge. Freshman Terrence Samuel and graduate student Lasan Kromah did a nice job filling in in the backcourt.

Napier, Daniels, and senior Niels Giffey, who scored 11 points starting in place of Boatright, all buried 3-pointers to open the second half.

When defenders stepped out on the perimeter to guard Daniels, the UConn junior drove the lane for baskets. He scored 21 points in the second half to keep the Huskies far in front.

"DeAndre is definitely a great talent," Napier said. "Sometimes it gets in his way. When he plays the way I know he can play, he can get 30 easy. … Sometimes he's just not feeling it but he has to continue to grind."

After playing three games in six days, UConn has a little time to prepare for Saturday's road trip to Rutgers. Boatright will be back to play in that game.

g.keefe@theday.com

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