Basketball is a game which is played for 40 minutes. Sometimes, a team can “play” for 28 minutes and win. And that’s about exactly what the UConn Huskies did on Thursday night against the Fairfield Stags.
The Huskies held off a late second half rally by the Stags to win the “Battle of the Olanders” 79-71 in front of 13,821 at the XL Center in Hartford, CT.
UConn heads into the Christmas break at 10-1 while Fairfield falls to 7-5.
Older brother Ryan Olander definitely got the better of the matchup with his younger brother Tyler despite the fact the Stags lost. Neither one of them could find the bucket in the first half. Ryan found the basket for eight points in the second half while Tyler had just two. Ryan also blocked a dunk by Tyler cleanly and then capped it off later by dunking over Tyler. Ryan also led the Stags with eight rebounds.
Shabazz Napier led the Huskies with 24 points with six rebounds and five assists. Jeremy Lamb chipped in with 18 points while Andre Drummond had 16 points, nine rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.
Ryan Boatright had a nice game off the bench for the Huskies with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Rakim Sanders paced the Stags with 20 points and added seven rebounds. Sean Crawford added 14 points with all of his baskets coming from beyond the arc with Derek Needham chipping with 12 points on four threes. Desmond Wade rounded out the Stags in double digits with 10 points.
Fairfield stayed with UConn for the first five minutes of the game. But with the Huskies leading 14-13, Napier led the Huskies on an 11-2 to run to open up a 10 point lead. The Stags would battle back though cutting the lead back down to eight at 30-22 with 6:26 to go in the half.
But UConn would close out the first half on a 16-4 run to open up a 20 point lead at the half at 46-26 and it looked like the rout was on.
That wouldn’t be the case though.
A Lamb three would give the Huskies their biggest lead of 22 points at 57-35 with 13:22 to go in the game. Over the next eight minutes, the Stags would get that lead into single digits and trail by six at 65-59 with 5:44 to go. They did it the same way they stayed in the game early in the first half. And that was by hitting some three pointers.
Fairfield didn’t stop there though.
Each time it looked the Huskies would pull away, the Stags answered. They would get the lead down to three points at 72-69 with when Sanders made a layup with 2:23 to go.
Things changed though for the worse for the Stags when Sanders missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:39 to go after the Stags forced a turnover down the other end before Roscoe Smith fouled him. The Huskies would grab the rebound and Boatright would nail a three. After Ryan Olander missed a shot, Lamb put an exclamation point on the win with an emphatic dunk to seal the win for the Huskies.
The Huskies will now get ready for the first of three straight Big East games without head coach Jim Calhoun who will be serving his NCAA suspension that was handed down last year. They may be lucky in the fact that Calhoun can only coach practices until Christmas because you know he won’t be pleased with the total effort of his team.
The first game sans Calhoun will be against the South Florida Bulls on Wednesday the 28th in South Florida. Tip is scheduled for 9 p.m.
To continue reading the Fairfield Stags @ UConn Huskies recap, click on the read more button below if you’re on the home page.
Notes and musings:
Here are the postgame quotes from UConn head coach Jim Calhoun and Fairfield head coach Sydney Johnson. The quotes from the players are underneath what the coach’s had to say.
UConn has won 65 straight games against competition from the state of Connecticut.
The starters for the Huskies were Shabazz Napier, Jeremy Lamb, Roscoe Smith, Alex Oriakhi and Andre Drummond.
UConn shot 53.8% (28-52) from the floor while Fairfield shot 40.6% (26-64).
The Huskies had just 12 assists on their 28 made baskets.
UConn was 7-of-11 (63.6%) from beyond the arc while the Stags were 12-of-27 (44.4%).
The Huskies were 16-of-21 (76.2%) from the charity stripe.
UConn barely won the battle of the boards, outrebounding Fairfield 34-32.
The Huskies outscored the Stags 32-20 in the paint and 24-8 on the fast break.
Fairfield had 15 second chance points to just four for UConn.
The Huskies had 14 points off of 12 Stags turnovers. Fairfield had 10 points off of 12 UConn turnovers.
Jim Calhoun picked his up his first technical foul of the season in the first half. Ironically enough, he got that technical before any of his players had committed a personal foul.
Photo credits: Stephen Dunn – Hartford Courant (No. 3, No. 14 in gallery)