UConn rolls by Ohio St.
STORRS, Conn. (AP) — UConn jumped out early on Ohio State on Saturday, breaking a pattern of slow starts that had seen the Huskies lose three of their previous four games.
Omar Calhoun led five UConn players in double figures with 14 points and the Huskies routed the Buckeyes 75-55.
UConn (6-3) hit five of their first six shots, shot 62 percent from the floor in the first half and led by 21 points after a driving layup by Jalen Adams at the halftime buzzer.
Calhoun made all five of his shots from the floor, including four from 3-point range.
“In order for us to win these types of games, we can’t start off slow and get in a hole and think we’re always going to fight back to win,” Calhoun said. “That was the difference in this game.”
Rodney Purvis added 13 points for the Huskies, who had been ranked as high as No. 18 in the nation.
Adams, Shonn Miller and Amida Brimah each had 11 points.
Marc Loving had 14 points to lead Ohio State (4-5), but hit just five of his 14 shots from the floor.
The Buckeyes had won two straight after a four-game losing streak that included losses to Texas-Arlington and Louisiana Tech. But they were playing their first true road game of the season.
“That was one of the best first halves of basketball I’ve seen in a long time,” said Ohio State coach Thad Matta. “They had the pace going and we just couldn’t stop it.”
The Huskies led 47-24 after Miller scored the first bucket of the second half. But Ohio State held UConn without a field goal for almost seven minutes and used an 11-0 run to cut the Husky lead to 12 points.
Loving said the team didn’t score enough during that stretch to make a difference.
“I feel like we were so focused on defense to the point that it didn’t convert on offense, which we really needed it to at that time,” he said.
A steal and dunk by Purvis sparked a 12-2 UConn run that put the Huskies back on top 59-37 after a 3-point play by Adams.
UConn finished the game shooting 60.4 percent from the floor and held the Buckeyes to just 35.7 percent, and 21 points below their season scoring average.
UConn opened the game with an alley-oop dunk from Hamilton to Brimah and went on a 7-3 run.
A reverse layup by freshman Adams gave UConn its first double-digit lead at 29-18, part of an 18-4 Husky run. The Huskies held Ohio State without a field goal for more than five minutes.
Calhoun’s third 3-pointer put UConn up 41-22.
It was the senior’s best game in two years.
“He hasn’t been playing a lot of minutes, but every day in practice he shows up and he gives me two hours, full intensity and I wanted to reward that,” said UConn coach Kevin Ollie.
Ohio State came into the game 3-2 against UConn, but the Buckeyes don’t count their loss in the 1999 Final Four, a game that was vacated because of NCAA violations by the Buckeyes.
UConn’s other win came in the 1988 NIT title game.
UConn was running out of opportunities to add to its national resume, with just two more non-conference games against notable opponents. The Huskies play at Texas on Dec. 29 and host former Big East rival Georgetown on Jan. 23.
Ohio State: Loving, who came in averaging just over 17 points and seven rebounds a game, has reached double figures in every game this year and surpassed 600 points for his career. … The Buckeyes had outshot opponents in every other game this season.
UConn: The Huskies have played three Big Ten teams in their last nine games. UConn beat Michigan, 74-60, at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas and lost to Maryland, 76-60 at the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday in New York. … Husky point guard Sterling Gibbs, a graduate transfer from Seton Hall, seriously considered Ohio State before choosing to finish his career at UConn.
Ohio State freshman center Daniel Giddens returned to the floor after missing two games with the flu and a hamstring injury. Giddens hit three of his five shots and finished with seven points in 23 minutes.
UConn’s 60 percent shooting night was the best for a Husky team since the team shot 66 percent in an emotional 84-50 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore on December 18, 2012, four days after the fatal shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown. Calhoun had 22 points that day.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes return home for a game Wednesday against Northern Illinois before travelling to Kentucky next Saturday.
UConn: The Huskies have a week off for final exams before hosting UMass Lowell on Dec. 20 at the XL Center in Hartford.