No. 9 seed UConn had trouble with No. 8 seed Colorado in the first half of their South region matchup in Des Moines Thursday afternoon, trailing by as much as 11 as they failed to come up with an answer for senior forward Josh Scott. Scott scored 13 points in the first half, as he was able to operate in 1-on-1 situations within the Buffaloes’ offense. Add in a sluggish showing on the offensive end of the floor, and the Huskies had some major adjustments to make.
Kevin Ollie’s team managed to turn things around, keeping Scott scoreless over the first ten minutes of the second half as they took control of the contest. Despite struggling against the Colorado press late, UConn won 74-67 to advance to the second round where they’ll play No. 1 Kansas or No. 16 Austin Peay on Saturday.
UConn opened the second half on a 24-6 run and outscored Colorado 47-31 during the game’s final 20 minutes, and down the stretch their superior foul shooting made the difference. The top foul shooting team in the country, UConn made 22 of their 23 attempts on the day. By comparison Colorado shot 19-for-30 from the charity stripe, a big reason why the Buffaloes’ season has come to an end.
Rodney Purvis and Daniel Hamilton, both of whom got going in the second half, finished with 19 and 17 points respectively. UConn shot just 39.7 percent from the field for the game, but most of those issues came in the first half when they spent too much time watching one player attempt to crack Colorado’s pack line defense with dribble penetration.
There was better ball movement in the second half for UConn, and that resulted in better shots. Also key was their decision to send more double teams at Scott in the low post, essentially daring the Colorado guards to make the plays needed to put points on the board and they were unable to do so. UConn will have a much tougher task Saturday (if Kansas does what’s expected today) from a defensive standpoint, but this is a program that’s made a habit of going on runs in March.