Men's Basketball: After loss to Cincinnati, No. 22 Huskies top UCF
UConn point guard Shabazz Napier dribbles down the floor during the Huskies’ 80-43 win over Houston on Jan. 30. JESS CONDON/The Daily Campus
The No. 22 UConn men's basketball team made sure they did not repeat Thursday's mistake and allow a first-half lead to slip away.
Holding onto a 41-24 lead at halftime, UConn withheld a UCF rally behind five double-figure Huskies scorers to take down the Knights, 75-55, at CFE Arena in Orlando, Fla. to bounce back from the loss in Cincinnati on Thursday.
Shabazz Napier and Lasan Kromah led UConn with 17 points and seven rebounds apiece, while DeAndre Daniels - playing for the first time since injuring his ankle at Rutgers on Jan. 25 - scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Ryan Boatright and Phil Nolan chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively, to help the Huskies improve to 18-5 on the season and 6-4 in the American Athletic Conference.
UConn closed out the first half with a 15-3 run, but UCF's Isaiah Sykes and Justin McBride mustered a rally in the second half, cutting the deficit to just eight with 7:21 remaining in the game. Napier and company, however, would foil the Knights' upset bid and pull away again to send UCF to its eighth consecutive loss.
Napier shook off his poor shooting in Cincinnati in which he went 5-for-19 from the field and made six of his 11 shots Sunday night, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range. The senior guard was just 2-for-12 from beyond the arc on Thursday.
UConn collectively outrebounded UCF 42-31, with an 18-12 edge on the offensive glass while holding the hosts to just 39 percent shooting from the field. The Huskies also forced the Knights to cough the ball up 18 times with Napier, Kromah and Boatright combining for 10 steals.
Sykes finished with 17 points despite playing a majority of the second half with four times while McBride, a 6-foot-10 and 310-pound freshman, scored 13 points in just 13 minutes.
UConn will return home to host USF in the teams' first meeting of the season on Wednesday at the XL Center in Hartford. Tipoff for that contest is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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