UConn 71, West Virginia 67 (OT); Wrapping Things Up From The Garden

by Categorized: Alex Oriakhi, Andre Drummond, Big East, Jeremy Lamb, Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, NCAA, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball

NEW YORK – A few notes, thoughts, quotes from The Garden, where UConn came back from 11 points down and beat West Virginia in OT. And your roadmap to all of our coverage in The Courant.

Earlier in the year, Shabazz Napier said teammates “didn’t listen to him” so maybe  he wasn’t a “good enough leader.” After the Marquette game, be famously called out his teammates, “questioning their heart.”

Very different story here. Alex Oriakhi was talking about the “fire” in Napier’s eyes when he told teammates “we’re not going to lose this game.” Everybody bought in, Oriakhi said. And Napier said, after fouling out, he loved watching his teammates play “because they play with so much heart.”

Three in a row for the first time since New Year’s Day. What has changed? Getting Jim Calhoun back obviously had a galvanizing effect. Remember, he talked about “bringing the family back together.” A few wins put everyone in a better mood. It’s a chicken-or-egg argument that has always existed in sports – does chemistry create winning, or does winning create chemistry?

Here is the game story for the Thursday Courant

And Jeff Jacobs’ take on the game, click here.


UConn has used 10 different starting lineups this season, involving nine players. The lineup they have used the last few games – Napier, Jeremy Lamb, Oriakhi, Andre Drummond and Roscoe Smith – is 6-1. It’s the lineup that was really projected going into the season, BTW.


Jim Calhoun now has 25 seasons with 20 wins or more, tied for sixth with Jerry Tarkanian and Eddie Sutton on the all-time list.  Joe Boeheim (34), Dean Smith (30), Bob Knight and Lute Olsen (29), Mike Krzyzewski (28) have more. Here is Jim Calhoun’s complete take on the game.


Feel like watching the UConn-Syracuse six OT game from 2009 all over again? ESPNU is showing it at 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, a shortened version. The full game will be on ESPU from 6 to 10 a.m., and on ESPN Classic from 8 a.m. to noon.


Don’t forget the live chat is Thursday, 10:30 to about noon.


Jeremy Lamb on the “circle play” that resulted in his winning basket:

“Well, yeah, I knew we needed a score, and in the game yesterday, Coach told me to shoot, and I didn’t take a shot.  You know, Coach was just saying, I want you shooting the ball. So today they ran a play for me.  They set great screens and I was able to get wide open, have a little time to set my feet, and I just shot it with confidence, and thank God it went in.”

For great photos from Richard Messina, click here.


The Huskies are hungry for Round 3 against Syracuse. “Obviously, we want revenge,” Oriakhi said.

“It’s going to be hard for them,” Andre Drumond said. “We’re going to come out on fire.”

Here’s a look at the first two games this year.


West Virginia had that big edge in offensive rebounds, but Calhoun noted that several were on blocked shots that were tipped back to them. The Huskies had a big defensive effort down the stretch – Drummond on Kevin Jones and Napier on Darryl Bryant. Calhoun also liked what he got out of Niels Giffey in the final  minutes after Napier fouled out. Your box score is here.

UConn now has 20 wins, is 34th in the RPI and has seven against top 50 RPI teams (West Virginia was 45th). You can start making NCAA Tournament plans. My notebook for the Thursday Courant will be on the website this evening.


Enosch Wolf is still in Storrs recovering from the concussion. He will join the team, though he can’t play, when he is able.


The Big East has a new member. Here is Paul Doyle’s take on it.


Syracuse and UConn have played 13 times in Big East Tournaments. Syracuse is 7-6, including 3-0 in quarterfinal matchups.


Want to talk about UConn basketball? Click here.




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2 thoughts on “UConn 71, West Virginia 67 (OT); Wrapping Things Up From The Garden

  1. John D

    Great come from behind win.I’ll have to eat crow as I seriously did not think this team had the grit with so little time on the clock to overcome a 9-11 point deficit.I hope they have enough in the tank to take down Syracuse today. If not I still think they will be a team that will be very dangerous at the Big Dance. At this time of the year no team looks foward to having them in their bracket.

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