Los Angeles, CA – The Connecticut Huskies (1-2) got their first victory of the new season by defeating the Lions from Loyola Marymount (1-2) 65-62. LMU had a chance to send the game into overtime after Jalen Adams missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with six seconds left but Brandon Brown’s 3-point attempt from the wing was off the mark allowing the Huskies to escape Gersten Pavillion with the win.
LMU got out to fast start with Stefan Jovanovic, the transfer from Hawaii, and Steven Haney knocking down open perimeter shots. UConn clearly had a size and length advantage and the Lions looked like they did not want to attack in the paint early on. Amidah Brimah emphatically sent back a pair of early attempts setting the defensive tone. On the offensive end, UConn was eager to try and get the ball inside. Terry Larrier opened the scoring by throwing down the first of several dunks by the Huskies. Clearly undersized, Coach Mike Dunlap decided to go almost exclusively to a 2-3 zone in order to negate their size deficiency. He also sprinkled in some man to man for short periods and threw in some highly effective full court pressure. The Lions were able to get 12 points off turnovers in the first half alone going into halftime even at 34. Brown was extremely effective working off ball screens and finding space to create. Kevin Ollie even played some 2-3 zone to take that away and make them find other ways to score.
LMU was led by the play of Brown and Kelvin Amayo. As soon as Amayo came in off the bench, he provided a spark by getting to the lane and getting fouled and then taking a steal in for a dunk that got the crowd up on their feet. Amayo and Brown were the only two players able to create off the dribble and get in the lane and create opportunities. Amayo only logged 31 minutes combined in the previous two games but played 30 in this one. He finished with 18 points, including 8-of-11 from the foul line and was the go to player all through the 2nd half. He used his strong frame (6-4, 225) and ability to handle the ball to drive on the UConn bigs and create scoring chances. On one sequence he took the ball strong and was denied by Brimah and then took it right back up into his chest and let him know he was not intimidated. Amayo also made a great extra pass late in the 2nd half to give LMU a 57-56 lead. He was essentially playing the 4 position as Dunlap went small in the 2nd half with Amayo and Shamar Johnson (6-7) at the 5 spot. Even thoughLMU was undersized, UConn would only get a +4 advantage on the glass for the night.
Buay Tuach came into the game as LMU’s leading scorer at 15.5 ppg. He didn’t shoot it well on this night but he flashed great athleticism on several occasions including a spectacular one- handed flush of an alley-oop and nearly converted another one which would have been the play of the night. He can definitely be a solid scorer and try and get into the lane and get to the line more than just settling for jump shots. With Brown in foul trouble most of the night, Munis Tutu came in off the bench and gave the Lions some solid minutes. In the 2nd half he knocked down a 3 and made a couple of nice assists to keep them in the contest.
On UConn’s side, the zone of LMU did not let them get inside for most of the night. And when they did, they had to work hard for it. The Huskies actually did a good job of moving the ball and getting good shots on the perimeter but were just not able to consistently knock them down going just 6-of-23 from 3-point range. When they did attack, Brimah was able to get free and throw down easy dunks. He finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots. He is still very raw offensively but is an elite shot blocker and was a force on the glass all night long. UConn used Larrier and his length very effectively in the high post area. At 6-8, he was able to catch the ball and make good decisions when the defense collapsed on him and created lots of open looks. He has a very smooth and controlled game and can be a very solid offensive player. When he plays aggressively he is tough to stop as he can get a shot up against anyone. His beautiful drive and spin move finish late in the game put UConn up for good. Rodney Purvis was inserted back into the starting lineup and struggled going just 2-of-9 including 0-of-6 from 3. He did flash the ability to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket well but he looked hesitant at times. Kenton Facey came in and gave the Huskies 15 solid minutes scoring seven points to go along with six rebounds. He was relentless on the offensive glass and went 5-of-6 from the foul line as a result.
The Huskies suffered a big loss when Alterique Gilbert went down late in the first half with a separated shoulder. He was the only player shooting well and had 10 points to go along with his excellent on ball defense that was very disruptive. UConn will need some of their other players to step up with him out of the lineup.
This article was written by Joseph Trabucco, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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