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UConn’s first conference road trip proves costly with two damaging losses in Texas

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UConn is ranked No. 17 in the Associated Press poll this week but might not be ranked at all on Monday after consecutive losses at Houston and SMU to begin its inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference.

SMU executed down the stretch Saturday and pulled away late in its first game in renovated Moody Coliseum while the road-weary Huskies threw errant passes, missed layups and made poor decisions offensively. The 74-65 loss capped a stretch surrounding the holidays in which the Huskies played at Washington along with their first swing through Texas in the new league.

UConn coach Kevin Ollie recently questioned the toughness of his team and its leadership, which is quite a departure from how he felt about his team earlier in the season after hard-fought close victories over Indiana and Florida, the only victory over a ranked team so far this season.

Ollie challenged Shabazz Napier to be at his best for a full 40 minutes between the Houston and SMU games. Napier didn't have his best stuff Saturday, making only two of nine shots and finishing with 12 points.

Finding a way to become a better rebounding team is a project. The Huskies certainly have plenty of time to regroup. Playing four of the next five games at home will help.

Ollie apparently hadn't lost all hope for his team prior to Saturday's loss. He took his team to AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Thursday to visit the site of this season's Final Four. He wanted to give his team a vision for a return trip that now looks pretty unlikely following the breakdowns against SMU.

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Kyle Ringo is the assistant editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at kyle.ringo@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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