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Wichita State hammers Huskies

By DAVID BORGES

New Haven Register

WICHITA, Kansas — Nothing shocking here.

Wichita State knocked down 14 3-pointers, dominated the boards and cruised to a 95-74 victory over the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team on Saturday at Koch Arena in a game that was as ugly as it was predictable.

The Shockers hit nine first-half 3-pointers en route to a 22-point halftime bulge and extended it to as much as 26 in the latter. By midway through the second half, the only drama left was whether UConn could avoid its seventh loss of at least 20 points this season (it didn’t) and fifth of at least 24 (it did).

Small consolation. Afterward, sophomore guard Christian Vital had some pointed remarks about his team’s long list of embarrassing setbacks.

“It’s disrespectful to the program, disrespectful to the people who played here before us,” Vital said. “It’s unacceptable, from Jalen [Adams] to me to the walk-ons.

“We have to compete. To allow UConn’s name to have the most 20-point losses in a season … we’ve got to really look in the mirror at night and say, ‘What are we here for?’ As a whole unit, myself included.”

UConn fell to 12-13 overall, 5-7 in the AAC. The Shockers improved to 19-5, 9-3.

Here’s the real thing about this Husky team: They never shock you. At least in a good way.

Entering Saturday’s game, you figured Wichita State, one of the top rebounding teams in the nation, would dominate the boards.

The Shockers won the rebounding battle, 40-24, including 15 on the offensive end.

Check.

You figured the Shockers — third in the nation in assist-to-turnover ration — would share the ball beautifully. They doled out 24 assists on 33 baskets.

Check.

You figured the top 3-point shooting team in the American Athletic Conference would scorch the nets from beyond the arc. Wichita State went 14-for-28 (50 percent) from distance.

Check.

And you figured Wichita State would roll to a blowout win. Just like Villanova and Auburn and Arkansas and Temple and Memphis have done this season against the Huskies.

Checkmate.

“I mean, I’m not getting dispirited,” coach Kevin Ollie promised. “I’m gonna stay fighting. Our guys are gonna have to keep fighting. We’re gonna have to find a way.”

St. John’s may be able to beat Duke and No. 1 Villanova in the span of a week after losing its first 11 Big East Conference games, but no such surprises with UConn.

Nothing shocking here. Nothing at all.

“At the end of the day, I’m gonna’ stay right here, I’m gonna fight,” Ollie continued. “I’m not gonna put my head down, I know I’m gonna get through this, I know our team is gonna get through this. But, you have to keep games close. You have to be counter-punchers. And we just didn’t do it tonight.”

Adams and Vital each scored 22 points to lead the Huskies, who shot an impressive 47 percent from the floor, including eight 3-pointers.

Kwintin Williams, the little-used JUCO transfer, was a bright spot for UConn. In 24 active minutes, Williams scored four points (on a pair of highlight-reel dunks) and grabbed a career-high eight rebounds.

“I’m just thankful for the opportunity,” said the sophomore nicknamed ‘Jump.’ “It hasn’t presented itself that much, I’m glad I made the most of it. I wish we would have done better as a team. The loss hurts, but we’ve got a couple more games left, hopefully we can salvage the rest of the season.”

It sounds like Williams is in line for more playing time moving forward.

“I found out something — ‘Jump’ is gonna’ compete,” said Ollie. “I found out one thing. Through adversity, it reveals character. Through this adversity, I found somebody who’s gonna’ contribute.”

Not enough of that was going around for UConn on Saturday in another blowout loss that came as little shock to anyone.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

 

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