It’s been almost two weeks since Connecticut last played a game.
Back in action, the second-ranked Huskies hope they’ll have an easier time than they did in their most recent contest as they face Stony Brook on Monday night in Hartford.
Connecticut (8-0) had a 10-day layoff due to final exams, more than enough time to forget a grueling 68-64 road victory over upset-minded Buffalo on Dec. 4.
The game featured 15 lead changes and four ties, and the outcome was in doubt until the final seconds. The Huskies took the lead for good with 9:56 left in the second half, but trailing by two points Buffalo had the ball in the final seconds and was unable to get a shot off.
“I think (the UConn players) get surprised all of a sudden that the other team is going to fight back,” Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. “It doesn’t make sense to me. It’s never going to make sense to me.”
Hasheem Thabeet had 21 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, while Jeff Adrian added 18 points for the Huskies, who shot a season-low 46.2 percent and were held well below their 82.0 scoring average.
The 7-foot-3 Thabeet continued his strong play with his third straight double-double. The junior is averaging career highs with 14.5 points and 12.5 rebounds this season.
“He’s really improved,” Buffalo coach Reggie Witherspoon said of Thabeet, who is two blocks shy of 300 for his career. “It’s too bad he didn’t go to the NBA last year.”
Jerome Dyson, averaging a team-leading 15.4 points per game, was held to a season-low six on 3-for-14 shooting against Buffalo. He’ll look to bounce back while the Huskies try to improve to 9-0 for third time in four seasons.
After surviving against Buffalo, UConn likely won’t look past Stony Brook even with a matchup against Top 25 teams Gonzaga on Saturday and the Big East opener against Georgetown on Dec. 29.
UConn will try for a third straight victory over Stony Brook (5-4) in the first meeting since Adrien scored 13 points in the Huskies’ 85-52 win on Dec. 28, 2005.
Coached by former UConn captain and assistant Steve Pikiell, Stony Brook enters this contest after a 61-56 loss to Hofstra on Wednesday.
Senior Demetrius Young scored a career-high 21 points for the Seawolves, who tried to rally from an 11-point halftime deficit, but shot a season-low 28.8 percent from the field.
“(Hofstra) just made a few more plays down the stretch than we did,” Pikiell said. “But I like my basketball team and I definitely think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Stony Brook freshman guard Bryan Dougher is averaging a team-leading 11.4 points this season, and 15.0 on 46.0 percent shooting in his last five contests.
The Seawolves are 0-10 versus ranked opponents since the start of the 1999-2000 season.