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UCONN SOARS OVER OWLS

Daniels records double-double in blowout win

Sports Editor

Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 23:01

HARTFORD – Against Louisville on Saturday night, the UConn men’s basketball was ripped apart inside, especially by Montrezl Harrell, who finished with 13 rebounds to add to the Cardinals’ plus-15 differential on the boards.

But in a 90-66 win Tuesday night against Temple at the XL Center, the Huskies (15-4, 3-3 American Athletic Conference) clamped down, outrebounding the Owls by 20 and holding Anthony Lee, the leading rebounder in the American, to zero boards.

“It was a team effort,” forward DeAndre Daniels said. “Everybody was going in and rebounding, and I felt like that’s what helped us get going. When we rebound and just play our game, we get easy buckets, we get fast breaks, we get into our offense more easily.”

Lee entered the game averaging 9.9 rebounds per game, the best in the AAC. Given UConn’s struggles this season inside, Lee seemed ready for a big game on the glass, but the combined effort of the Huskies’ big men kept him at bay.

“I just told the guys, ‘If we rebound, we win. Just commit to hit.’ And they did that tonight,” coach Kevin Ollie said. 

After a dismal three points and four rebounds against Louisville, Daniels finished with a double-double against Temple (5-12, 0-6 AAC), posting a new career high with 31 points to go with 12 rebounds. The junior made 11 of 19 shots, including four of six from behind the 3-point line.

“He’s got to continue to grind,” Shabazz Napier said. “You’re going to miss shots. You have to have a Reggie Miller mindset. You miss one, you’re going to make the next one. And he did that today and definitely was grinding it out.”

The Owls had no one to contain Daniels or Napier, who followed up a 30-point performance against the Cardinals with 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

UConn’s offensive explosion, primarily through Daniels and Napier, looked like it came easy, and it came without junior shooting guard Ryan Boatright, who was in Illinois for the funeral of his cousin, Arin Williams. Williams was murdered last week in a Chicago-area restaurant. Ollie said Monday that Boatright was “50-50” for Tuesday’s game and that the Huskies were preparing as if he would not make it.

Without Boatright, UConn still managed to shoot 53.4 percent from the field. Daniels and Napier combined to take 33 of the Huskies’ 58 shots and combined for 58 of the 90 points, but Niels Giffey quietly produced another efficient shooting game, scoring 11 points on 3 of 7 shooting, including two 3-pointers.

“Boatright’s obviously a very talented player, and I’m sure that they would rather have had him,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said, “although they obviously didn’t miss him as much as we would have liked that they missed him.”

With Boatright gone, Lasan Kromah and Omar Calhoun picked up some slack, but so did freshman Terrence Samuel. In 10 appearances before Tuesday, Samuel averaged 6.3 minutes of play, but the Brooklyn native was out there for 15 against Temple.

Samuel played well in his extended appearance, scoring two points and assisting twice, but after almost every defensive possession in the second half, he could be seen getting a lecture from Napier in almost the same fashion that the captain was lectured by UConn great Kemba Walker during the 2010-11 season.

“I told him that we’re going to need him down the line,” Napier said. “We’re going to definitely need him in games where I have two fouls or Ryan has two fouls. He’s just got to continue to be ready…He’s a great talent and he’s going to be a good Husky in the future. But he needs to know how to keep his composure, because as a point guard, you need that and for the team to understand that you’re the leader and the guy they need to follow.”

Now back at .500 in the conference, UConn goes back on the road for its final visit to the Rutgers Athletic Center for the foreseeable future, as the Scarlet Knights are bound for the Big Ten Conference at season’s end. The Huskies are 1-2 on the road in the American, knocking off No. 17 Memphis last Thursday after an 0-2 swing through Texas to begin conference play.

“Now we get back on the road and try to get a road kill out of New Jersey,” Ollie said.

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