Trailing by one point with 9.8 seconds left, A.J Price was fouled before the ball was inbounded and subsequently made the two free throws as UConn would hold off a last second effort from the Bearcats to win 84-83 in front of a packed house at Fifth Third Arena on the campus of the University of Cincinnati.
Cincinnati (9-10, 4-3 Big East) had just gone back ahead 83-82 on layup by Rashad Bishop before the foul by Bishop on Price. After a timeout, Price calmly knocked down the free throws. The Bearcats had one last chance but a Marcus Sikes missed a jumper giving the Huskies a hard-fought road victory. The win was third for the Huskies (13-5, 4-3) on the road in the Big East. They won only two on the road in the Big East last season.
The big difference in the game was the Huskies free throw shooting. Yes, I said it again. Free throw shooting was one of the keys for the Huskies in the game. They were 32-of-37 (86.5%). The Bearcats on the other hand were 13-of-20 (65%). The great free throw shooting by the Huskies allowed them to overcome 36 points (12-27) from behind the 3-point line for the Bearcats. The Huskies were only 4-of-10 from 3-point land.
Hasheem Thabeet paced the Huskies with 22 points and 7 rebounds. Jerome Dyson had 20 points, including big back-to-back three pointers when the Huskies were down 12 in the second half. Price had 13 points and Jeff Adrien has 12 points and 7 rebounds. Craig Austrie came off the bench to score 8 points, all from the charity stripe.
Deonta Vaughn led Cincinnati with 34 points, including an 8-of-11 from three point land. Alvin Mitchell, Bishop and Kenny Bolton all added 7 points while Jamual Warren, Adam Hrycaniuk and John Williamson chipped in with 6 points.
It was a see-saw game for the first 12 minutes of the game then Price picked up his second foul and went to the bench. Cincinnati then finished off a 12-0 run to go ahead 31-21. UConn battled back though as Austrie made 6 of his 8 free throws that cut the lead to 1. The Bearcats would go into the locker room up 3 points at 41-38.
UConn pulled ahead by four points early in the second half before Cincinnati came roaring back. With UConn down four points, UConn head coach Jim Calhoun picked up a technical foul and Vaughn made both free throws to go up 6. The Huskies fell behind by 12 points before they decided to turn up their defensive pressure. UConn went on an 11-2 run to get back in the game. UConn would finally get the lead back with 34 seconds left as Adrien hit two big free throws.
An absolutely huge win for the Huskies on the road. Cincinnati had beaten the likes of nationally ranked Pittsburgh and Villanova at home this season. It was great to see Thabeet assert himself on the offensive end. Hopefully, he can continue this as the season wears on.
This game should be a great confidence booster for the Huskies as they will head to Bloomington, IN on Saturday to take on the #7/8 Indiana Hoosiers in a nationally televised contest. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 PM and CBS has the game.
Notes and observations:
The starters were A.J. Price, Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson, Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet.
Tonight marked the first time the Huskies have played the Bearcats on the road. They have met once in Big East play back in 2005-2006. They didn’t play each other last year and will play again on March 8th at Gampel Pavilion.
Since 1989-90, UConn has more road wins than any other BIG EAST school, going 95-61 away from home.
Both UConn and Cincinnati had 29 rebounds.
UConn shot 53.3% (24-45) from the floor while Cincinnati shot 48.3% (29-60).
The Bearcats pressure defense forced 14 UConn turnovers. Cincy committed 11 with most of them coming in the second half.
UConn committed 3 fouls in the first half with two of those by Price. They were whistled for 11 in the second half for a game total of 14.