The UConn Huskies have been up and down in conference play this season, but Tuesday’s 90-66 win over Temple could get them moving in the right direction. The biggest takeaway for UConn from this win was the performance of junior forward DeAndre Daniels, who scored 31 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. The monster game from Daniels was the kind of performance that UConn needs from him, and if he can continue to play at a high level then he could turn the Huskies into a very dangerous team.
There have been questions all season about who can support Shabazz Napier, and although Ryan Boatright is the most likely candidate, it is well known that Daniels is the X-factor for UConn. Daniels plays as a stretch 4 in UConn’s guard heavy offense, and his inside-outside offensive game presents all kinds of matchup problems for opponents. Daniels shot 11-19 from the field and 4-6 from three against Temple, and he is shooting a ridiculous 48.4% from three this season.
Daniels also starred in UConn’s big win over Memphis last week, recording 23 points and 11 rebounds. Unfortunately, his big games against Memphis and Temple were split by a dud against Louisville, when Daniels shot just 1-9 from the field and had 3 points and 4 rebounds. UConn needs a true second star to complement Napier, and they also need someone who can can give the defense a different look from the quick, attacking play of Napier and Boatright. Daniels can be both of those things, and the wins over Memphis and Temple prove how dangerous UConn is when Daniels is on top of his game.
UConn should win their next two games against Rutgers and Houston before facing a big challenge on the road against Cincinnati. The Huskies need Daniels to continue to play at a high level over the course of these next few games as they try to get on a winning streak and move up in the AAC standings. UConn should continue to heavily run pick and pops with Napier and Daniels, and they also need to set Daniels up as the primary beneficiary of kickouts following Napier and Boatright’s slashing drives to the basket. The play of Daniels will continue to be the X-factor for UConn’s success, and he is the player who can push this team to the next level.