St. John's Wart
Not much positive to this one if you're a UConn fan. Jim Calhoun said this was over at the opening tap, though that's not really true. The Huskies led 31-29 after Jamal Coombs-McDaniels' 3-pointer 54 seconds before halftime.
Then, it all fell apart.
Dwight Hardy hit a 3-pointer (a familiar refrain for the evening). Roscoe Smith turned the ball over. Malik Boothe Kemba Walkered the Huskies, banking in a 37-footer at the buzzer.
Calhoun thought Boothe had traveled on the play and ... um ... expressed as much to referee Mike Eades. He got hit with his first technical of the season.
"I do think four steps is a bit much," Calhoun said afterwards. "I'll take three, but the fourth step got me."
Boothe opened the latter half with the two freebies, St. John's scored on its first possession. Instead of a chance to take the lead in the final seconds of the first halff, UConn suddenly trailed by eight 25 seconds into the latter.
Then, the Johnnies decided not to miss: 12 of their 14 to start the second half, 17-for-24 total (71 percent) over the final 20 minutes. All 16 of their free throws.
The chain of events surrounding halftime surely hurt the Huskies and pumped up the Johnnies, right Coach Calhoun?
"Then we should have lost by 15," he said, regarding his 'T.' "They would have had possession (to start the second half anyway)."
Some of UConn's players clearly thought the sequence was the game-changer, however.
"Malik hit a big shot at the buzzer, that gave them a lot of momentum," said Walker. "They had the tech, more momentum. From there, they kept rolling. They couldn't miss. But, it's alright. We're just going to try to get better and learn from this experience."
Added Jeremy Lamb: "(Boothe) hit almost a halfcourt shot, and then Coach got a technical foul so I think they were really excited, it boosted them. But there's still no reason for how we played."
True enough. When asked what bothered Calhoun the most about his team's performance, he said: "Every aspect that you can possibly name: from the foul shooting, to no defense, to rebounding, to not running, to getting run on …"
Hardy scored a career-high 33 points and became the first Johnnie to score 30 in consecutive games since Marcus Hatten in 2003.
*** UConn shot 37-percent from the floor – thanks in great part to a bunch of baskets in garbage time. Worse, the Huskies hit just 13 of 22 free throws. They were outrebounded 43-33, outscored on the fast break by a resounding 27-2 and inside the paint 40-18.
Walker struggled shooting yet again: 4-for-16 from the floor, 3-for-6 from the foul line for 15 points. Lamb lied down on Broadway, hitting some shots late but wound up hitting just 5 of 16 from the floor for 13 points.