Adams’ at­ti­tude, if not stat line, im­presses Hur­ley

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Sports - By David Borges david.borges @hearst­medi­act. com

HART­FORD — UCF’s 65-53 win over UConn on Satur­day of­fered a strangelook­ing box score.

UConn out­re­bounded the taller Knights by 14, in­clud­ing a whop­ping 17-0 ad­van­tage on the of­fen­sive glass.

“I don’t know that I’ve seen that be­fore,” UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said.

Even stranger was the plus/mi­nus lines for in­di­vid­ual play­ers. Al­terique Gil­bert, whose 13 first-half points kept the Huskies in the game, fin­ished at mi­nus-13. Chris­tian Vi­tal, whose 13 se­cond-half points al­most sin­gle­hand­edly car­ried UConn, fin­ished at mi­nus-14.

That means the Huskies were outscored by 13 points while Gil­bert was on the floor, and 14 when Vi­tal was out there.

Jalen Adams, who shot just 2-for-10 for eight points and turned the ball over three times, fin­ished at just mi­nus-2. And he was even or plus for al­most the en­tire game un­til the very end.

Adams did a good job guard­ing UCF lead­ing scorer B.J. Tay­lor (2-for-7, 12 points) for most of the game, and Hur­ley was at least happy with the se­nior guard’s ef­fort. That’s some­thing the coach couldn’t say on Wed­nes­day night, af­ter the Huskies blew a 13-point lead and lost to South Florida on the road while Adams was play­ing air gui­tar af­ter mak­ing 3-point­ers.

“I thought his whole ap­proach to own­ing the last two days, he owned it,” Hur­ley said. “He was the first guy out on the court to­day shoot­ing. He had a stone-faced, de­ter­mined look. There were no smiles, there was no play­ing the gui­tar af­ter a 3. He was locked in like a se­ri­ous bas­ket­ball player needs to be.”

Adams has failed to hit dou­ble dig­its in three of UConn’s last five games.

“He’s go­ing through some strug­gles with his con­fi­dence,” Hur­ley con­tin­ued. “But if Jalen Adams ap­proaches ev­ery day the way he ap­proached his last two, he’ll come out of this and he’ll start play­ing much bet­ter bas­ket­ball. Can he take over games at the level that Aubrey Dawkins does, or B.J. Tay­lor? Ob­vi­ously, he’s gonna have to prove that. But I loved how he showed up to­day.”

HERE WE GO AGAIN

Hur­ley lamented the “here-we-go-again” men­tal­ity the team seems to go through, par­tic­u­larly in the se­cond half of games that turn from close af­fairs to dou­ble-digit deficits.

“There’s a rea­son why I’m here. The rea­son why I’m here is to fix these is­sues that we’re all in here talk­ing about — im­prov­ing the pro­gram in all as­pects. It’s a part of why UConn has strug­gled. That tough­ness, that men­tal­ity, that killer mind­set, that will to win that has driven this pro­gram to where it’s been at, it’s been ab­sent.”

TALE OF TWO HALVES

Af­ter scor­ing 13 first-half points on 5-for-9 shoot­ing (in­clud­ing all three 3-point­ers), Al­terique Gil­bert shot just 1-for-10 in the lat­ter half and fin­ished with 18.

“Al’s got the heart of a lion,” said Hur­ley. “Al Gil­bert will even­tu­ally be a real dif­fer­ence-maker for this pro­gram in games like this against the best teams.”

Jes­sica Hill / As­so­ci­ated Press

UConn coach Dan Hur­ley re­acts to­ward an of­fi­cial dur­ing the first half on Satur­day.

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