By Mac Cerullo, Sports Editor
For the second time this season, UConn had the lead at home with time running out, only to give up the game-tying layup and then lose in overtime.
Against Louisville a loss like that can be explained, because Louisville is a great basketball team and they have proven so repeatedly this year. This loss, however, I can’t find any explanation for. It’s not even that Marquette isn’t a good team, they are, it’s just that the statistics don’t add up.
Kemba Walker, despite his devastating turnover at the end of regulation, had 27 points. Alex Oriakhi had 12 points and 15 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb had eight points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Niels Giffey completely took Jimmy Butler out of the game, and then added nine critical points of his own in the second half. As a team, UConn outrebounded Marquette 57-43, including a 28-19 advantage on the offensive glass.
Usually a statline like that will result in a W, but why not today? Well, turnovers are the obvious explanation, the Huskies had 17 of them, including the horrible one at the end of regulation. But even beyond that, what plagued UConn seemed to be an inability to assert themselves when they needed to. In the first half, they started off with an 11-3 lead, and then went into halftime down 11. In the second half, they immediately fought back and wound up with an eight point lead of their own, only to see that disappear as time wound down.
In the last two minutes, the Huskies were one basket away from winning. They couldn’t get it, and it cost them. Then what happened in overtime was pretty much a complete failure, Marquette seemed to be hitting everything, and UConn couldn’t do what they needed to do to assert themselves.
The Huskies have three games left to get their act together before the postseason. I don’t think there is any doubt at this point that the Huskies will be invited to the big dance, but you still want to look good when you show up. That’s what they can do in these last three games, look good, so that come March, we can be sure that they will show up.