Connecticut Huskies Basketball: DeAndre Daniels Has Career Night

By Michael Roberts

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Connecticut Huskies know they’ll need another scoring option heading into Big East conference play and they’re hoping they just found it after DeAndre Daniels’ career night.

Daniels recorded a career high 23 points against the Harvard Crimson, shooting 9 for 12 from the field in a 57-49 Huskies victory. The 6-foot-8 sophomore was aggressive early in the first half, repeatedly attacking the paint to finish with 15 points entering the break with Connecticut up by only three.

The career night couldn’t have come at a better time for the Huskies with Harvard hanging around, managing to get within one point of Connecticut on multiple occasions but never taking the lead. Part of the reason they were able to keep things close was due to the lack of scoring from Shabazz Napier. Connecticut’s leading scorer didn’t pick up his first two points in the game until the seven minute mark of the second half. The 6-foot-1 junior was still effective in other areas recording nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals however his six points were far below his season average of 17.2 per contest.

With Napier struggling, the team’s second leading scorer Ryan Boatright was still productive recording 16 points in the victory. Napier and Boatright have been the Huskies two major offensive weapons as the team struggles to find a consistent third scoring threat. Entering the game against Harvard the guards combined to total 263 of the team’s 558 points so far this season, being responsible for 47.1% of the team’s scoring. Daniels’ career performance was actually the first time a Huskie other than Napier or Boatright has led the team in scoring this season.

Connecticut thought they might have found a third scoring option with the play of freshman Omar Calhoun. The 6-foot-5 guard had a four game stretch scoring in double-figures at the end of November. However, he’s struggled in his past two games going scoreless against Harvard and recording only five points against the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Like any freshman, Calhoun will still need time to grow comfortable and will likely become a bigger factor towards the end of the season. Right now he can’t be counted on as a consistent option shooting only 35% from the field.

Daniels on the other hand is shooting 44.7% from the field along with leading the team in rebounding with 4.4 per game. The Huskies will need his post presence going against the bigger teams in the conference, especially for a poor rebounding team that’s been outrebounded in eight of its last nine games.

Coach Kevin Ollie is hoping this is a significant confidence boost for Daniels after his dominating display around the basket. It’s only one game but it could be the breakthrough needed for Daniels to perform at a higher level consistently. Ollie will need to remind him what made him successful against Harvard and a key reason was his lack of hesitation upon receiving the ball. The forward routinely looked confident in his decision making whether it was driving hard to the rim, backing down his defender and shooting a high percentage shot or simply passing it off. It was clear Daniels never doubted himself or his abilities, which is usually always the case when a player has the best game of his career.

If he can maintain the confidence he showed against Harvard, he’ll have provided Ollie that third scoring threat.

Michael covers the ACC and Big East for Rant Sports, you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelxRoberts

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