UConn makes Hur­ley a win­ner in de­but

Fans at Gam­pel Pav­il­ion give new coach a warm wel­come

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - SPORTS - By David Borges

STORRS — Hello, Hur­ley!

That was the greet­ing Dan Hur­ley got from the Gam­pel Pav­il­ion sell­out as he walked onto the floor for the first time of­fi­cially as UConn head coach Thurs­day night, about five min­utes be­fore open­ing tip-off tap.

The 10,167 fans in the house were glad to see him. What they saw from his Husky team was a mixed bag — some good, some meh — but ul­ti­mately ended up an 80-70 vic­tory.

Josh Carl­ton scored a ca­reer-high 17 points and grabbed eight boards for UConn, while Jalen Adams and Al­terique Gilbert worked through some foul trou­ble and com­bined for 31 points. Tarin Smith added 12 points and a lit­tle of ev­ery­thing else, in­clud­ing four as­sists, four re­bounds and a charge, and Bren­dan Adams hit a pair of well­timed, sec­ond-half 3-point­ers. Chris­tian Vi­tal strug­gled from the floor but grabbed eight re­bounds.

UConn got out on the break at times, and when it couldn’t, found Carl­ton down low. The 6-foot-10 sopho­more played as well as he’s played as a col­le­gian, though it should be noted that More­head State didn’t use a sin­gle player taller than 6-foot-7.

De­spite that fact, the Huskies only nar­rowly won the re­bound bat­tle, 41-36.

UConn looked good at times in the first half, get­ting out on the break, hit­ting a few 3s and run­ning up as much as a 13-point (33-20) lead with 5:44 left. But the Ea­gles quickly coun­tered with an 8-0 run and stayed close the rest of the half.

The first half ended on a ter­ri­ble se­quence for the Huskies, as the Ea­gles grabbed an of­fen­sive re­bound off a missed free throw with 11 sec­onds left and worked the ball around to Malek Green, who canned a trey at the buzzer.

The Huskies’ lead was a mere 37-33 at the break.

More­head State stuck around for the first 10 min­utes of the lat­ter half un­til a 9-2 run gave the Huskies some breath­ing room.


Sopho­more for­ward

Isa­iah Wha­ley sprained his left an­kle mid­way through the first half. He re­turned to the floor briefly later in the half, but sat out the en­tire sec­ond half.

⏩ Early in the sec­ond half, a huge ban­ner that read “Fight On Con­necti­cut” was un­veiled by the stu­dent sec­tion, cov­er­ing nearly the en­tire sec­tion dur­ing a time­out.

⏩ Akok Akok, a high­lytouted Class of 2019 power for­ward, was on an un­of­fi­ial visit to UConn on Thurs­day and at­tended the game. Akok was joined by Put­nam Sci­ence Academy team­mates Kareim Reid and Has­san Diarra. Akok has made of­fi­cial vis­its to UConn, Syra­cuse, Pitts­burgh, Ge­orge­town and Prov­i­dence.

david.borges @hearst­medi­act.com

Jes­sica Hill / As­so­ci­ated Press

UConn’s Jalen Adams, left, drives to the bas­ket as More­head State’s Jor­dan Walker de­fends dur­ing the first half of Thurs­day’s game in Storrs.

Jes­sica Hill / As­so­ci­ated Press

More­head State’s A.J. Hicks, left, and UConn’s Chris­tian Vi­tal chase down a loose ball dur­ing the first half of Thurs­day’s game in Storrs.

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