Senior Omar Calhoun came off the bench to score fourteen points as UConn picked up a much needed non-conference victory over Ohio State in a matinee affair at the Gampel Pavilion on the Storrs campus Saturday afternoon. UConn used a 25-8 run over the final ten minutes of the first half to lead by nineteen at the break, before cruising to the, 75-55, win over the visiting Buckeyes.
Calhoun led five Huskies in double figures with Rodney Purvis adding thirteen and Shonn Miller, Amida Brimah and freshman Jalen Adams chipping in eleven points apiece.
UConn coach Kevin Ollie was happy with Calhoun’s scoring output but chose to focus on his senior guards intangibles, saying, “This is great don’t get me wrong, I would take 14 points, but I would rather take all of the things he brought, the toughness things. That’s what I want to see.”
The Huskies won the battle of the boards while shooting 60% from the floor and holding the Buckeyes to a season low 55 points on 38% shooting. The win and the overall effort was just what the doctor ordered with UConn (6-3) off for finals before returning to action on the 20th.
Said Ollie, “We played aggressive. I think out of our first 29 points 20 were in the paint so that amazing. We were in attack mode and the defense started stepping up. Overall we had a great game on the defense end and offensive end.” Adding, “It was enjoyable to watch. I think everyone played free and played fast, but we also played physical. That is what we have been promoting in practice the last couple of days.”
Calhoun, who had been injured and in and out of Ollies dog house the last two seasons, went five for five from the floor but downplayed the output saying, “I just need to keep breaking down film, locking onto my technique and seeing the little things on defense.”
Ohio State (4-5) opened the second half with an, 11-2, run holding UConn to a lone hoop for the first six and a half minutes of the second, trimming the lead to 47-35, but could get no closer the rest of the way.
For Buckeyes Head Coach Thad Matta the first half was the difference saying, “That was one of the best first halves of basketball I’ve seen in a long time. In terms of their ability of their ability to make difficult shots and their ability to have patience…I thought UConn really came out and attacked us. The biggest thing was our inability to finish the last ten minutes of the first half.”
Despite the win, Ollie’s Huskies are still in search of a signature win having lost to Maryland, Gonzaga and Syracuse, all ranked in the Top 30, while falling out of the Top 25 after having started the season ranked. Currently UConn ranks 93rd in the RPI with SMU as the only ranked team left on the schedule. Georgetown and Texas are the only remaining name non-conference schools on the schedule.