Sports: UConn men lose at Memphis, 78-71

The Day - - FRONT PAGE - By CLAY BAI­LEY

Memphis, Tenn. — Memphis coach Penny Har­d­away has wanted to spread the of­fen­sive load around to other play­ers in re­cent games. Kyvon Daven­port took the chal­lenge, hav­ing his best game in weeks.

Daven­port scored 26 points, Tyler Har­ris and Jeremiah Mar­tin added 12 each and Memphis (14-10, 6-5 Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence) held off a late push to beat UConn 78-71 on Sun­day.

Daven­port had not topped 20 points in the last nine games and Har­d­away had said other play­ers needed to help out Mar­tin, a se­nior, with the scor­ing load.

"Ev­ery­thing is set up for him to go out and do that. He just has to pro­duce," Har­d­away said when asked how to keep the 6-foot-8 Daven­port en­gaged. The Memphis coach added that the Tigers of­fense is set up to get Daven­port the ball in ar­eas where he is com­fort­able.

"The rest is up to him. To­day, he de­cided to come and be more ag­gres­sive to the bas­ket and he did that."

For UConn, it was a day that started slowly and, de­spite sev­eral ral­lies to pull close to the Tigers, the Huskies never could over­take Memphis, which took the lead to 14 in the first half and 16 in the sec­ond.

"We're a young team. They're a vet­eran team," Huskies coach Dan Hur­ley said, later adding: "(Memphis) emo­tion­ally was prob­a­bly a lit­tle bit more ready to play. And I think it also took us a lit­tle bit of time to gauge their ath­leti­cism. Their ath­leti­cism took a lit­tle bit for us to get ad­justed to."

The Huskies were play­ing their first game since lead­ing-scorer Jalen Adams (17 points per game) suf­fered a left knee in­jury that will keep him out of ac­tion for 4-6 weeks. That meant ad­just­ments for UConn of­fen­sively.

Tyler Pol­ley led the Huskies (13-11, 4-7) with 20 points, while Sid­ney Wil­son fin­ished with 16. Chris­tian Vi­tal and Tarin Smith added 13 apiece for UConn, which lost its sec­ond straight and third in the last four.

De­spite Memphis build­ing dou­ble-digit leads

both halves, and still hold­ing a 10-point ad­van­tage with three min­utes to go, UConn had a fi­nal push. A cou­ple of dunks and a 3-pointer from Smith had the Huskies within 72-68, but UConn never got closer as Memphis con­verted all four of its free throws in the closing 30 sec­onds.

"There's never a good loss or any­thing you feel good about when you walk out," Hur­ley said. "It stings. It hurts.

“It's not some­thing we're used to at the Uni­ver­sity of Con­necti­cut."

He later added: "This is year one of es­tab­lish­ing a cham­pi­onship or­ga­ni­za­tion. So, be­fore you're whole, be­fore you have ev­ery­thing you need to climb lad­ders and cut down nets, you have to learn how to com­pete and fight."

BRAD VEST/THE COM­MER­CIAL AP­PEAL/AP PHOTO

Ant­wann Jones Jr. of Memphis, left, goes up for a shot against UConn’s Sid­ney Wil­son dur­ing Sun­day’s game at Memphis, Tenn. Memphis won 78-71.

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