Even with Ryan Boatright back, UConn can’t get it together

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Ryan Boatright sat out Connecticut’s last three games because of an NCAA investigation, but was cleared in time to play Sunday against Notre Dame at home. Time couldn’t have been better, either.

The Huskies were 1-2 without the freshman guard, losing close games to Cincinnati and Tennessee. The one win was at Notre Dame.

So how did UConn play with Boatright? It lost to Irish, 50-48. Of course.

“(His teammates) are glad to have him back,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. “They didn’t seem that glad the way they played.”

Even with one of their top perimeter playmakers back in the lineup, the Huskies (14-6) remain a baffling team. They still have a nasty interior defense (opponents make just 38.2 percent of their twos and have 18 percent of their shots blocked by the Huskies) and still crash the offensive boards better than most. But turnovers (causing them and not committing them) are killing them and the perimeter defense remains soft.

Take the Notre Dame game.

The Huskies held the Irish to a 43.6 eFG%(six points below Notre Dame’s average) and they had fewer turnovers than ND. But they succumbed to Notre Dame’s slow-it-down approach and never forced the issue. Desire seems to be an issue.

“We’re going through some hard times right now,” said sophomore wing Jeremy Lamb, who led all scorers with 16 points, but also had a game-high four turnovers. “We just have to find a way to get through it.”

Better be quick, too. UConn plays at Georgetown on Wednesday, plays host to Seton Hall then has games at Louisville and Syracuse. That could easily be six straight losses.

As for Boatright, he played 30 minutes, had six points, three boards and an assist. The better he is, the better it is for UConn. The 6-foot guard excels at creating his own shot and can stretch a defense, too (hits 47 percent of his 3s).

But as long as the cloud of this latest NCAA mess hangs over his head – his attorney ripped the NCAA and his mom was target of Gregg Doyel’s ire — it’ll be interesting to see if his performance drags.

“It’s been mentally draining,” Boatright said. “But I can finally say that it is put behind me and we can move on.”

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Ryan Boatright sat out Connecticut’s last three games because of an NCAA investigation, but was cleared in time to play Sunday against Notre Dame at home. Time couldn’t have been better, either.

The Huskies were 1-2 without the freshman guard, losing close games to Cincinnati and Tennessee. The one win was at Notre Dame.

So how did UConn play with Boatright? It lost to Irish, 50-48. Of course.

“(His teammates) are glad to have him back,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. “They didn’t seem that glad the way they played.”

Even with one of their top perimeter playmakers back in the lineup, the Huskies (14-6) remain a baffling team. They still have a nasty interior defense (opponents make just 38.2 percent of their twos and have 18 percent of their shots blocked by the Huskies) and still crash the offensive boards better than most. But turnovers (causing them and not committing them) are killing them and the perimeter defense remains soft.

Take the Notre Dame game.

The Huskies held the Irish to a 43.6 eFG%(six points below Notre Dame’s average) and they had fewer turnovers than ND. But they succumbed to Notre Dame’s slow-it-down approach and never forced the issue. Desire seems to be an issue.

“We’re going through some hard times right now,” said sophomore wing Jeremy Lamb, who led all scorers with 16 points, but also had a game-high four turnovers. “We just have to find a way to get through it.”

As for Boatright, he played 30 minutes, had six points, three boards and an assist. The better he is, the better it is for UConn. The 6-foot guard excels at creating his own shot and can stretch a defense, too (hits 47 percent of his 3s).

But as long as the cloud of this latest NCAA mess hangs over his head – his attorney ripped the NCAA and his mom was target of Gregg Doyel’s ire — it’ll be interesting to see if his performance drags.

“It’s been mentally draining,” Boatright said. “But I can finally say that it is put behind me and we can move on.”

Related stories:

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.