UConn sailed above UMass Lowell; Sid Wilson made his debut



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STORRS – After UConn jumped to a 23-point lead for the first 10 minutes of Tuesday night's match, it seems the only intrigue left over the past 30 minutes will be a countdown to Sidney Wilson's college debut.

Unfortunately, someone forgot to say to UMass Lowell, who decided to make things competitive, was pulled into the 10-hour break and refused to go through the first 10 minutes of the second half.


The Huskies finally pulled away for a 97-75 victory behind a typical balanced scoring attack. Christian Vital scored 17 of his 19 points in the first 10 1/2 minutes of play, Jalen Adams also scored 19, Josh Carlton had 15 points and eight rebounds and Alterique Gilbert also scored 15.

UConn increased to 6-1, its best seven matches since the 2013 season. By the time they arrived in Arizona, however, the Huskies had better improve their defenses.


UConn allowed UMass Lowell (4-5) to shoot 49.1 percent for the game and 41.7 percent from the 3-point range. The River Hawks beat the Huskies 25-12 for the last 9 minutes of the opening round, then shot 55.6 percent in the second round.



"I just thought it was a terrible defensive performance," said coach Dan Hurley. "If we don't get better, at the end of the court – quickly – we will be in big trouble, starting on Sunday."

UConn welcomes Arizona to the XL Center on Sunday at 1pm

"Our focus in the coming days will be on the edge of the field defense," Hurley said. "Just understanding, to beat a team like Arizona, how they play and how they have been run for years, people have to understand ownership with ownership, how difficult and together and selfless and committed to winning we will have to on Sundays. "

Carlton, for one, believes his team will be ready.

"I think we will take advantage of these several days of preparation," said the 6-foot-10 sophomore center. "Just trying to put together some good practices before we take Arizona and our focus will be on the game."

As for Wilson, he made his long-awaited debut with 8:58 left to play and … well, the rust (nerve?) Showed a little. Wilson failed to pass an easy pass from Jalen Adams in the first minute of play, then grabbed an offensive rebound, only to be rejected by the rim on a dunk attempt, which led to the River Hawk runaway.


Wilson, a 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman, did not play in the Huskies' first six matches to breach undisclosed university rules that began last season. He sat all last season after moving from St. John before the school year begins.

Filled with Vital 17 points, the Huskies drove to lead 32-9. When Vital hit a 3-pointer with 9:25 remaining in half, he had more than half way to the top of his career in scoring goals (30) and 3 (seven) for the match.

"I only play," Vital said. "My teammates did a wonderful job of finding me, and I did my job to drop shots. I appreciate my teammates who found me. "

But the Huskies got a little careless, or negligent, or both, and the River Hawks beat them 25-12 for the last nine minutes. UConn did not reach the field goal through the final 3:56, and after reversing the ball only twice during the first 17 minutes, had three turnovers in three finals.

Oh, and Adams committed three violations.

"Very frustrating," Hurley said, "and it has nothing to do with dirty problems, it has to do with our defensive mindset. The game, in the first round, should not have been 10. It should have been 22 or 24. It was only bad habits, a bad mindset. You can't learn to change it in seven or eight months. "

Adams started the second half with a conventional 3-point game, starting early 9-2. But UMass Lowell was still in mid-mid 14, until a 10-2 run – limited by Adams stealing and dunk – gave UConn some breathing space.

That's when Sidney Wilson's era began … and Dan Hurley's concern about his team's defense certainly did not end.

"If we keep that level, it's like a grassroots game – without insulting grassroots coaches, because the grassroots team plays a better defense than that – we're not an offensive giant, so we better tighten it, or we'll have a big problem. Immediately. "


RIM RATTLINGS:
Wilson finally played just under five minutes (which was about what Hurley had planned for him), collecting three rebounds, losing both shots and turning the ball once.

"It was Sid's first seconds in college basketball," Vital said. "Once he starts to understand, feeling back playing in the game, you will see Sid that you have never seen before. I promise that. "

Adding Hurley: "We have to continue without him with the team we have for the first seven matches. Now, responsibility is in Sid, everyday, to get himself on the field with his practice habits and attention to the details of learning our system. "

A moment of silence was observed before the match to commemorate Tony Hanson, UConn's number 3 scorer who died Sunday morning at the age of 63.


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