STORRS, Conn. — Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin says his philosophy when playing conference games on the road is to win and get the heck out of the building.
Jacob Evans III scored 19 points and No. 8 Cincinnati left Gampel Pavilion on Saturday with a 65-57 victory over a struggling UConn team. It was the Bearcats 14th straight win.
Kyle Washington added 13 points and 11 rebounds for Cincy (21-2, 10-0 American), which struggled at times but never trailed.
Jalen Adams scored 20 points and Christian Vital added 18 for the Huskies, who have lost five of their last six to fall below the .500 mark at 11-12 (4-6) American.
The Bearcats shot just 38 percent from the floor, almost 10 percentage points below their season average and were outscored 26-14 in the paint. But they held UConn to 36 percent shooting.
“It wasn’t a pretty game by any stretch,” Cronin said. “Their zone, it slowed us down, it limited our points in the paint,” Cronin said. “If you can only get 14 points in the paint and win you’ve got to be happy as a coach.”
Cincinnati opened the game with three straight 3-pointers and ran out to a 13-0 lead. The Huskies missed their first 10 shots and didn’t score until Christian Vital drove the lane for a layup almost eight minutes into the game.
The Bearcats had a drought of their own, getting just six free throws over a nine-minute span before a 3-pointer from Evans made it 26-16.
A 3-pointer by Keith Williams at the halftime buzzer sent the Bearcats into the locker room up 32-21.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Cane Broome eight minutes into the second half extended the lead to 17 points. The Bearcats extended that to 19 and then weathered a late 12-4 UConn run.
Cincinnati hit 9 of their 25 shots from behind the arc, while UConn went 5 of 17.
“It’s tough on the road,” Evans said. “You play a team on the road, especially in conference, it gets dark as the away team. So, we were just focused on getting the win and getting back to Cincinnati.”
Cincinnati: A win in its next game against UCF would tie the team’s longest winning streak in the 12-years since Mick Cronin took over as head coach. The school record for consecutive wins is 37, during the 1961-62 and 1962-63 seasons.
UConn: The Huskies are now 27-29 over the past two seasons. UConn has lost 12 straight against ranked opponents and is 0-5 against the Top 25 this season. Despite their struggles, this was the Huskies first loss on campus this season. The Huskies are now 5-1 at Gampel Pavilion.
“We have the guys; we have the talent, we just need to figure out how to put it together,” Vital said. “I don’t know how. Obviously, we’re still trying to figure that out.”
The game was a homecoming for Cincinnati guard Cane Broome, who is from East Hartford and played at Sacred Heart in Fairfield before transferring to Cincinnati. Broome, who averages just over eight points a game, scored 10 points. He played against UConn once before, as a sophomore at Sacred Heart, scoring just seven points, the only time that season he failed to reach double figures.
“I just wanted to be able and come here and win the game, for real, because last time I came, I lost,” Broome said. I just wanted to win the game.”
UConn is just 27-28 since the 2016-17 season began.
HE’LL BE BACK
UConn point guard Alterique Gilbert recently had season-ending surgery on his left shoulder for the second straight year. But Gilbert says he’s “100 percent” committed to returning to the program. “The past two years have been kind of up and down for us, but I definitely know with the history and tradition at UConn there is another side to that, so I want to experience that side,” Gilbert said.