UConn Huskies

Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie has a word with guard Rodney Purvis (44) during an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Paradise Island, Bahamas. (Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP)
Associated Press

UConn snaps Texas’ six-game winning streak 71-66

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Rodney Purvis scored 16 points and led a second half rally as Connecticut beat Texas 71-66 Tuesday night, snapping the Longhorns’ six-game winning streak.

Shonn Miller and Daniel Hamilton added 13 points apiece for UConn (9-3) and former Longhorn Sterling Gibbs scored 12.

Freshman Tevin Mack led Texas (8-4) with a season-best 20 points, and Isaiah Taylor scored 19.

Texas led 53-52 after Mack made his fifth 3-pointer of the game with 8:18 remaining. Then Purvis asserted himself with two driving shots, an assist on a basket by Jalen Adams, and a 3-pointer that gave UConn a 61-55 lead with 4:27 left.

After Taylor missed the front end of a one-and-one with 3:49 remaining, Purvis made another basket.

Six straight points by Taylor pulled Texas within two, 65-63, with 33 seconds left, but UConn made six throws in the final 27 seconds, four by Gibbs.

Hamilton leads UConn over Central Connecticut 99-52

Connecticut's Daniel Hamilton (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Daniel Hamilton posted the 11th triple double in UConn history as the Huskies rolled to a 99-52 victory over Central Connecticut State Wednesday afternoon at the XL Center.

The 6-foot-7 sophomore finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists to become the 10th player in school history to accomplish the feat. Former UConn guard Shabazz Napier, who now plays for the Orlando Magic, is the lone Husky to do it twice.

Shonn Miller added a team-high 25 points to lead the Huskies (8-3), who head into the holiday break on a three-game win streak.

UConn was playing its second straight game without injured 7-foot center Amida Brimah.

Rodney Purvis added 16 points, Sterling Gibbs 12 and Kentan Facey 10. UConn shot over 60 percent from the field for the third straight time, finishing at 60.3 (38-for-63).

UConn played with a short bench minus Brimah (broken finger) and reserve guard Sam Cassell Jr. (sprained ankle). Brimah sat out Sunday’s win over UMass-Lowell with a testicular contusion, but returned to practice Monday where he broke his right middle finger. He was scheduled to have surgery Wednesday afternoon.

The Blue Devils (1-9) took advantage of Brimah, who ranks ninth in the nation with 3.0 blocks per game, being out in the first half. CCSU used a 15-6 run to pull within five, 30-25, with 4:46 to go in the first half.

UConn answered with a 16-1 run to close the half. Miller scored 14 points and the Huskies shot 58 percent from the field to grab a 46-26 lead. They also scored 15 points off 10 CCSU turnovers.

Miller stayed hot to open the second half and helped UConn pull away with an 18-8 opening run to lead 64-34 with 13:52 to play.

The fifth-year senior Miller sat the final 13:10 as UConn went to the bench.

Hamilton reached 10 assists and 10 rebounds early in the second half, but had only two points. He quickly caught up in the latter category before heading to the bench for the final 6:15.

The Blue Devils were led by 16 points from Austin Nehls.

The 47-point loss was the worst of the season for the Blue Devils, who are coached by former UConn assists Howie Dickenman.

TIP-INS:

Central Connecticut: The Blue Devils snapped an eight-game losing skid to open the season with a win over UMass-Lowell. … . The Blue Devils were just 4-for-17 from 3-point range.

UConn: The Huskies outscored CCSU 56-22 in the paint.

UP NEXT

CCSU is home against Yale on Wednesday.

UConn plays at Texas on Tuesday.

Purvis leads No. 25 UConn over UMass-Lowell 88-79

Connecticut's Rodney Purvis, right, shoots over UMass-Lowell’s DJ Mlachnik, left,  in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Rodney Purvis scored 28 points and No. 25 UConn beat UMass-Lowell 88-79 on Sunday.

The Huskies (7-3), who were playing without injured 7-foot center Amida Brimah, relied on their guards in the victory.

Daniel Hamilton had 12 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Sterling Gibbs scored 15 points and Omar Calhoun had 14.

The Huskies made 64 percent of their shots from the floor, while Lowell shot 50 percent.

Jahad Thomas led UMass-Lowell (4-7) with 19 points and Josh Gantz had 18. Matt Harris and Isaac White each scored 11.

The Huskies led by as many as 14 points in the second half, but had a tough time.

A 3-pointer by D.J. Mlachnik closed the gap to 81-75 with under 2 minutes left, but UConn hit seven of its eight foul shots down the stretch to hold off the River Hawks.

UConn has won consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 25. UMass-Lowell has lost five of its last six games.

The Huskies led by six points at halftime and just 62-55 before a 7-0 run led mostly by Purvis’ jumper and 3-pointer on consecutive possessions.

Brimah suffered a testicular contusion last week, and UConn clearly missed his defensive presence early on. The River Hawks’ Matt Harris hit two early 3-pointers, and the team used a 7-0 run to take a 20-13 lead and force UConn coach Kevin Ollie to take a timeout.

The Huskies went to a full-court press and took the lead back 26-25 when Hamilton found Phil Nolan under the basket for a layup.

UConn hit 67 percent of its shots in the first half yet had a 43-37 lead at halftime.

A 3-pointer from Purvis gave UConn its first double-digit lead at 51-41 early in the second half, but Ryan Jones responded with a 3-pointer for the River Hawks.

UConn outrebounded UMass-Lowell 30-18. The River Hawks have only three players taller than 6-foot-4 and none taller than 6-foot-8.

UMass-Lowell, which started the season 3-2, has lost five of its six games in December. The lone win came Dec. 6 over a Boston College team that was depleted by food poisoning. Lowell has eight first-year players on its roster.

TIP INS

UMass-Lowell: The River Hawks have lost two straight road games to teams from Connecticut, including an 83-79 loss Friday to Central Connecticut – UConn’s next opponent.

UConn: Brimah had played in a team-high 84 consecutive games dating back to his freshman season and had started 44 straight. The team says his injury is not serious and his absence was precautionary. Daniel Hamilton leads the team in consecutive games with 45.

UP NEXT

UMass-Lowell: The River Hawks, who had seven of eight road games this month, will head to Piscataway, New Jersey, to face Rutgers on Dec. 28.

UConn: The Huskies host Central Connecticut on Wednesday before taking on the Texas Longhorns on Dec. 29 in Austin, Texas.

Deep UConn team looking for go-to player

Kevin Ollie
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One of the country’s most intriguing teams this season will be UConn, who returns a lot of talent and adds some interesting fifth-year transfers. The Huskies won their exhibition debut over the weekend with an 88-72 win over Division II Tampa and it was behind a balanced effort.

Cornell transfer Shonn Miller looked good in his UConn debut with 18 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals and four other Huskies finished in double-figures. Freshman guard Jalen Adams offered a speedy change-of-pace option off the bench for UConn and scored 14 points, the same amount as guard Rodney Purvis. Senior Omar Calhoun contributed 11 and Daniel Hamilton chipped in 10.

Ollie went 10 deep in the game and he clearly has a lot of talented pieces at his disposal — I didn’t even get to center Amida Brimah or Seton Hall transfer guard Sterling Gibbs, among others — and figuring out a rotation will be an on-going early-season process.

Also interesting to track with UConn is who will step up and take the lead early in the season. Ollie had a pretty revealing quote after the game and Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant mentioned it in his report.

“You can have a lot of guys contribute,” Ollie said to reporters, “but you have to have a guy that can be that alpha dog, too. That team we had [two years ago], we had options, but Shabazz [Napier] was that guy when everything got in disarray and tough, he was that guy to bring them together. That’s what I’m searching for right now, and I think I’m going to find it. Daniel didn’t have the game he’s supposed to have, but it was just the first game.”

That quote says a fair amount about the Huskies at this point and there is still uncertainty with who might take over down the stretch for a talented team. Hamilton could be in line for a big year as a sophomore and Ollie is expecting a lot on him, as he mentions him specifically in this quote. Even if Hamilton doesn’t have a huge scoring night, this Husky team probably has enough balance to win on some off nights. If Hamilton plays at a higher level, UConn could be a dangerous — and deep — team this season.

Ranking College Basketball’s Top Back Courts

Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker
Associated Press
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We’re labeling this as the nation’s top back courts, but truthfully, it’s the nation’s top perimeters. That’s why you’ll see guys like Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown, small forwards that will play the four a lot this season, listed here. 

One thing we realized making this list: There are an inordinate number of talented guards in college basketball this season, especially those that will get labeled as lead guards. So many, in fact, that the likes of Miami, Iowa State and Texas A&M didn’t even crack the top 15.

Here is our list. What did we get wrong?

1. Kentucky (Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Charles Matthews, Mychal Mulder)

They don’t rebuild in Lexington they reload, and John Calipari has quite the perimeter rotation at his disposal despite losing three of his top four guards from a season ago. The returnee is 5-foot-9 sophomore Tyler Ulis, who has emerged as this team’s leader. But he isn’t the only guard in the group who operates will with the ball in his hands, as both Briscoe and Murray will also have ample opportunities to create offensively. The 6-foot-4 Murray was one of the standouts at the Pan-American Games in Canada this summer, as he went off to lead the hosts past the United States in the semifinals. Matthews and Mulder aren’t slouches either, giving Kentucky additional talent and depth with their presence.

2. Wichita State (Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet, Conner Frankamp, Landry Shamet, Evan Wessel)

Baker and VanVleet are two of the nation’s best at their respective positions and they’re going to appear on multiple preseason (and end of season, for that matter) All-America teams as a result. Wessel gives this group added toughness, and Kanas transfer Conner Frankamp will give Wichita State another capable shooter when he becomes eligible in December. The 6-foot-4 Shamet is a Top 100 recruit who will fight for minutes now and be a key figure for the Shockers in the years to come.

3. Indiana (James Blackmon Jr., Yogi Ferrell, Robert Johnson, Nick Zeisloft)

This group is one of the reasons why the Hoosiers will enter the 2015-16 season ranked, with senior point guard Yogi Ferrell leading the way. Ferrell led the Hoosiers in scoring and assists a season ago, and he also led the team in made three-pointers. Blackmon should be better as a sophomore after tailing off somewhat down the stretch last year and the same goes for classmate Johnson, with Zeisloft coming off of a year in which he shot 45 percent from beyond the arc.

4. North Carolina (Marcus Paige, Justin Jackson, Joel Berry II, Nate Britt, Theo Pinson, Kenny Williams)

Paige enters his senior season as one of the the best guards in the country, as he’s comfortable as either a scorer or a distributor for the Tar Heels. Jackson, who was a key contributor for North Carolina as a freshman, looks poised for a breakout year as he moves into the starting spot left vacant by J.P. Tokoto, and classmate Pinson is healthy after dealing with injuries last season. Both Berry and Britt are capable contributors but they have to get better as playmakers, thus relieving some of the pressure on Paige. The one thing this group was missing a season ago was another shooter to go with Paige, and if called upon Williams has the ability to be that guy.

5. Michigan (Caris LeVert, Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton Jr., Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Spike Albrecht, Kameron Chatman, Aubrey Dawkins, Duncan Robinson)

Irvin is working his way back to 100 percent after undergoing back surgery in early September, and his return will make Michigan’s perimeter attack one of the deepest and most talented groups in the country. LeVert was projected by some to be an All-America caliber player prior to last season, and Walton and Irvin are also players capable of earning postseason honors. Albrecht will also be a factor, with Abdur-Rahkman, Chatman and Dawkins gaining valuable experience as freshmen due to the injuries that sidelined LeVert and Walton. The “wild card” is Robinson, who sat out last season after averaging 17.1 points per game as a freshman at Division III Williams College in 2013-14.

RELATED: Top front courts in college basketball | Top 100 Players

Buddy Hield (AP Photo)
Buddy Hield (AP Photo)

6. Oklahoma (Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins, Jordan Woodard, Chrisyian James, Rashard Odomes, Dinjiyl Walker)

Lon Kruger’s perimeter rotation won’t lack for experience as reigning Big 12 Player of the Year Hield and Cousins are both seniors and Woodard will be a junior. Walker played 10.6 minutes per game as a junior last season and figures to be in a similar reserve role. As for the freshmen, both James and Odomes are players who will look to earn minutes but ultimately benefit down the line from competing with (and against, in practice) the veteran guards.

7. Villanova (Ryan Arcidiacono, Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Phil Booth, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo)

Big East Co-Player of the Year Arcidiacono is back for his senior season, with Big East tournament MOP Josh Hart appearing poised to take a significant step forward as a junior. And then there are the freshmen, most notably a lead guard in Brunson who enters college as one of the best at his position. DiVincenzo and Bridges, with the latter having redshirted last season, give Villanova additional skill and athleticism on the wing and Booth gives Wright another point guard to call upon.

8. Duke (Brandon Ingram, Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, Luke Kennard, Derryck Thornton Jr.)

Allen, who stepped forward in a big way in the national title game, returns for his sophomore season and Jones gives Duke an experienced wing option who’s a solid defender and capable perimeter shooter. Given the personnel losses the three freshmen will be especially important this year, with Thornton being asked to take over at the point and Ingram being a slender wing who can score from anywhere on the court. As for Kennard, he’s good enough to see time at both guard spots, and given Duke’s numbers he’ll likely have to do just that.

9. Maryland (Melo Trimble, Jake Layman, Jared Nickens, Rasheed Sulaimon, Dion Wiley, Jaylen Brantley)

The Terrapins did lose leader Dez Wells from last season’s NCAA tournament team, but most of the perimeter rotation returns led by preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Melo Trimble. Trimble’s a handful with the ball in his hands, making sound decisions in ball screen situations and getting to the foul line at a very high rate. Layman, who took a step forward as a junior, has the potential to be even better as a senior with Nickens and Wiley looking to earn more minutes as sophomores. And the newcomers, Brantley and Sulaimon, will also contribute with the latter giving Maryland another quality perimeter shooter (and he’s a good defender too).

10. California (Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Jabari Bird, Stephen Domingo, Jordan Mathews, Sam Singer)

Depth, which was an issue all over the court for the Golden Bears a season ago, won’t be a problem in 2015-16. Wallace, one of the nation’s top point guards, leads the way with a trio of juniors (Bird, Mathews and Singer) also having a wealth of experience. Add in two talented newcomers in Brown, who could see time at the four in smaller lineups, and Georgetown transfer Domingo and head coach Cuonzo Martin has a host of options at his disposal.

Tyrone Wallace (AP Photo)
Tyrone Wallace (AP Photo)

11. Virginia (Malcolm Brogdon, London Perrantes, Marial Shayok, Devon Hall, Evan Nolte, Darius Thompson)

The Cavaliers have to account for the departure of Justin Anderson on the perimeter, but it certainly helps to have veterans Brogdon and Perrantes back on campus. Brodgon was a first team All-ACC selection a season ago, and his skill on both ends of the floor merits All-America mention this season. Perrantes is a solid floor general who can do even more from a scoring standpoint. Nolte and Shayok were rotation players last season, and Hall and Thompson (who redshirted after transferring in from Tennessee) will also compete for minutes.

12. Michigan State (Denzel Valentine, Eron Harris, Tum Tum Nairn, Bryn Forbes, Matt McQuaid, Kyle Ahrens, Alvin Ellis)

This group is led by one of the nation’s most versatile players in Valentine, who can play anywhere from the one to the three depending on match-ups. Forbes should be more consistent in his second season with the program, and Nairn looks poised to step forward as the next in a long line of high-level point guards to play for Izzo. Harris is a transfer from West Virginia who many expect to hit the ground running, and Ellis will also look to solidify his spot in the rotation. As for the freshmen, they’ll look to carve out roles in what is a deep rotation.

13. Connecticut (Daniel Hamilton, Sterling Gibbs, Rodney Purvis, Jalen Adams, Omar Calhoun, Sam Cassell Jr.)

Ryan Boatright’s moved on, but UConn’s perimeter rotation is more balanced (and deeper) than it was a season ago. Part of that is due to their additions, with the explosive Adams and experienced Gibbs joining the ranks. As for holdovers, head coach Kevin Ollie has those as well with Calhoun being a senior, Cassell and Purvis (who put together some solid outings down the stretch last season) being juniors and the versatile Hamilton (AAC Rookie of the Year) being a sophomore.

14. Kansas (Wayne Selden Jr., Frank Mason III, Svi Mykhailiuk, Devonté Graham, Brannen Greene, LaGerald Vick)

This ranking could prove to be low at season’s end, depending upon (in part) the progress made by Selden. The junior played very well at the World University Games in South Korea this summer, and if he can build on that play the Jayhawks will undoubtedly have one of the top guards in the country. Mason gives them an absolute pitbull at the point, with Graham being another player capable of running the point. And in Green, Mykhailiuk and Vick, Kansas won’t lack for depth on the wings either.

15. Florida State (Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Dwayne Bacon, Devon Bookert, Montay Brandon, Terance Mann, Malik Beasley, Benji Bell, Robbie Berwick)

While he’ll once again be one of the top guards in the ACC, Rathan-Mayes will have some much-needed help on the perimeter. Bookert and Brandon give Florida State two experienced seniors, Berwick saw solid minutes as a freshman, and their newcomers arrive on campus amidst much fanfare. Bacon may be the marquee freshman, but Beasley and Mann will also compete for minutes with junior college transfer Bell looking to do the same.

Also Considered: Miami, Iowa State, UCLA, Notre Dame, LSU, Louisville, Providence, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M

Vance Jackson commits to UConn

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UConn held its annual First Night on Friday, but the Huskies had another reason to celebrate. Vance Jackson, a 2016 small forward, announced he had committed to UConn for next fall.

“I would like to announce that I’m committing to the University Of Connecticut,” he tweeted.

Jackson, rated No. 72 overall by Rivals, joins a monster recruiting class for Kevin Ollie, one that includes fellow four-star prospects Alterique Gilbert and Juwan Durham, as well as three-star big man Mamadou Diarra. That incoming group also includes VCU transfer Terry Larrier, who is sitting out the 2015-16 season.