- Associated Press - Sunday, December 18, 2016

STORRS, Conn. (AP) - UConn made an effort to get inside against North Florida and ended up with its most lopsided win of the season.

Kentan Facey scored a career-high 20 points to lead five Huskies in double figures and UConn beat the Ospreys 80-59 on Sunday.

The 6-foot-10 senior added nine rebounds and four of the team’s 13 blocked shots as UConn evened its record at 5-5.

Christian Vital and Jalen Adams each had 13 for UConn. Rodney Purvis and Amida Brimah added 11 apiece.

Adams also had 10 assists and Brimah hit all five of his shots and blocked four of North Florida’s.

UConn (5-5) dominated the game down low, outscoring the Ospreys 40-10 in the paint.

“Coach has been emphasizing that we needed to get some more points in the paint, some more touches in the paint so we could play inside-out and I think we did a good job of that tonight,” Facey said.

Dallas Moore led North Florida (4-10) with 18 points, but had just three after halftime. Garrett Sams added 16 points and for the Ospreys, who were held to 33.3 percent shooting.

UConn led by five at halftime. Purvis scored nine points during a 13-3 second-half run that pushed a 55-50 lead to 68-53.

The Huskies trailed 7-2 early, before it found the inside game. A baby hook by Steven Enoch gave the Huskies their first lead at 8-7.

A steal and driving layup by Vital gave the Huskies their first double-digit lead at 28-17.

Moore had been averaging more than 23 points a game. His first basket came almost seven minutes into this one, a 3-pointer from well behind the line. By the end of the half he had four 3-pointers and 15 points and the Huskies led just 41-36.

UConn rotated Purvis, Adams and Vital on him in the second half, playing in his face and holding him to a single 3-point field goal.

“This was the first time that any team was allowed to be that physical with him,” said North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll. “When the best player on the floor has to deal with that constantly and then make shots over shot-blockers like that and do those things, it wears on you.”

The Huskies average margin of victory in their previous four wins was 4.5 points, and that included an 11-point victory over Division II Chaminade.

“Our bigs pretty much dominated the game,” said UConn coach Kevin Ollie.


UConn: The Huskies are holding teams to just over 38 percent shooting for the year and held their three previous opponents to 30.3 percent. Boston University shot 31 percent, Syracuse was held to 26 percent and Ohio State beat the Huskies despite shooting just 34 percent.

Facey said the team has made defense its focus, especially after losing two key offensive cogs, guard Alterique Gilbert and forward Terry Larrier to injury for the season.

“We knew we had to change our mindset to give ourselves a chance to win games,” he said.

North Florida: The Ospreys have played a tough nonconference schedule. Their losses this year include road games at Auburn, Syracuse, LSU, and Arkansas. They fell to Miami and Florida at home. But Driscoll said he doesn’t buy into the theory that playing those teams will help his guys when they face Atlantic Sun opponents.

“We do this because we have to bring in a large amount of money for our athletic department,” he said. “That wears on you. Wouldn’t you rather play a lesser of a schedule and have more wins and give your guys confidence that way?”


Moore had scored 30 or more points in in four of his last five outings . Adams said he and the other UConn guards were determined not to let that happen against them.

“We knew we just had to lock in on him,” Adams said. “If you can cut the head off the snake then we can more likely get the ‘W.’ Mainly, when he got the ball we tried to blitz him and get the ball out of his hands.”


Gilbert underwent surgery on Friday to repair the torn labrum in his left shoulder that he suffered in a win over Loyola Marymount on Nov. 17. The Huskies were also short a coach on Sunday. Assistant Ricky Moore missed the game with flu-like symptoms.


UConn: The Huskies host Auburn on Dec. 23 before opening up their American Athletic Conference schedule on Dec. 28 with a home game against Houston.

North Florida: The Ospreys visit FIU on Wednesday before their holiday break. The return home to face Ball State on Dec. 29.

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