UConn makes Hurley a winner in debut
Fans at Gampel Pavilion give new coach a warm welcome
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.
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.
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.
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.