Heading into their contest against the No. 17 Memphis Tigers, the unranked Connecticut Huskies knew that this contest could make or break their whole season. With another remaining contest against Memphis and two versus No. 18 Louisville Cardinals, the Huskies had to win this game to give them a resume booster.
They did just that, due mainly to the performances of Shabazz Napier (17 points, four rebounds, 10 assists) and DeAndre Daniels, who had his best game of the season (23 points, 11 rebounds). Lasan Kromah added 13 points, and has established himself as a valuable player in the starting lineup.
With the win, the Huskies moved to 14-3 overall and 2-2 in the American Athletic Conference, while the Tigers fell to 12-4 and 3-2 in the AAC. If UConn beats Louisville, who destroyed the Houston Cougars, they will undoubtedly crack the top-25 next week.
Honestly, I thought Memphis’ Shaq Goodwin, Austin Nichols and David Pellom would absolutely eat the Huskies up on the interior on both ends of the floor. However, the disruptive defense exhibited by the Huskies, anchored by freshman big man Amida Brimah, held the three to a combined 30 points and nine rebounds. Daniels out-rebounded those three single-handedly.
The Tigers shot better than expected especially early in the game, and finished 7-of-17 while the Huskies got back to their hot shooting ways and hit 8-of-19 from beyond the arc.
The one point of emphasis from the onset of the season for the Huskies has been rebounding the basketball. Tonight, they out-rebounded Memphis by the tune of 34-26, and only allowed the Tigers to pull down 12 defensive rebounds. The Huskies had 13 offensive boards. Although they gave up 14 offensive rebounds to the Tigers, the Huskies made the hustle plays when they needed to en route to a very crucial road win.
Omar Calhoun, who was virtually not used in UConn’s past five or six games, played well in limited action, putting up seven points on 3-of-4 shooting. Getting Calhoun back into form is one of the crucial elements of this team’s success in my opinion. Lets see if Calhoun and the Huskies can assert themselves at the top of the AAC and knock off the defending National Champion Louisville Cardinals on Saturday. Tip off is at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Dan Karpuc is the Connecticut Huskies beat writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_karpuc, and “Like” him on Facebook.