Connecticut had the weekend to think about its first loss of the season, but the 14th-ranked Huskies should have a good chance to get back on track with a pair of home games against weaker competition to begin December.
The first takes place Wednesday in Hartford against Boston University, as the New England rivals revive a long series that has been dormant since 1997.
Even after losing a star-studded trio that led the team to the 2009 Final Four, UConn (4-1) cruised to the final of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden before Friday’s 68-59 loss to then-No. 7 Duke.
Although Huskies coach Jim Calhoun was pleased with a defense that held the Blue Devils to 29.2 percent shooting from the field, the coach said the difference in the game was on the glass, with Duke totaling 21 offensive rebounds.
A strong physical presence inside was rarely a problem last season with Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien leading UConn to a national-best 43.3 rebounds per game, but the team has barely outrebounded its opponents this season despite facing no ranked teams besides Duke.
Alex Oriakhi had 14 rebounds Friday, but Calhoun said the freshman forward needs help.
“I’m appalled by the lack of rebounding by us as a team,” Calhoun said.
“It’s been a problem four out of our five games, for whatever reason. I don’t know what the reason is,” the coach added. “You can’t leave an 18-year-old freshman to be the only guy rebounding. That’s a major problem.”
UConn’s offense, which has replaced leading scorer A.J. Price with the guard tandem of senior Jerome Dyson and sophomore Kemba Walker, also struggled against Duke, with Walker failing to reach double digits in points for the first time this season and Dyson going 6 of 20 (30.0 percent) from the field.
The Huskies will likely have an easier time scoring against Boston University, which has allowed 75.0 points per game while opponents have shot 44.6 percent.
The Terriers (2-5) had problems slowing down Harvard - UConn’s next opponent - in a 78-70 home loss on Sunday, and they’ve gotten off to a slow start under first-year coach Patrick Chambers despite being the unanimous pick to win the America East Conference by the league’s coaches.
All five starters for Boston University scored in double figures against the Crimson, led by John Holland’s 18 points, but the team got a total of two bench points.
The Terriers may try to use the 3-point shot as they launch an upset bid, as they rank among the top 25 nationally in 3-pointers attempted per game (24.4) after finishing 11th in that category last season.
Senior guard Corey Lowe has hoisted up 51 3-pointers in seven games, but he is shooting just 23.5 percent from long range.
UConn has faced Boston University 52 times, going 40-12, but the teams haven’t squared off since a 68-54 Huskies win on Nov. 17, 1997. Calhoun is also familiar with the Terriers, having gone 16-15 against them while he coached crosstown rival Northeastern from 1972-86.
Boston University will be trying for its first win over a ranked team since March 13, 1959, when it beat then-No. 18 Navy 62-55 in the NCAA tournament. The team lost 85-67 to then-No. 21 Georgia Tech in Puerto Rico on Nov. 22.