HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — UConn guard Jalen Adams shook off an illness that kept him out of practice this week and the Huskies rallied from a 17-point first-half deficit to earn their third straight victory.
Adams scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half Thursday, leading UConn to a 65-62 win over Memphis. Christian Vital added 13 points for the Huskies (13-12, 8-5 American), who have won six of their last seven games and have a winning record for the first time this season.
Craig Randall II and Markel Crawford each scored 13 for Memphis (18-9, 8-6), which led 40-26 at the half.
“At halftime, usually coach comes in there and he’s yelling at us, spazzing on us,” Adams said. “But today he came in there with a lot of confidence and he just told us, ‘We’re going to win this game. We’ve just got to limit them in transition and we’ve just got to be more aggressive.'”
Memphis, which had nine fast-break points in the first half, had just two in the second half and the Huskies began chipping away. But the Tigers still led 60-53 with just 5 minutes left after a jumper by Jeremiah Martin.
UConn scored the next 10 points, taking a 61-60 lead on a runner in the lane by Adams with just under 2 minutes left.
A dunk by Vital with 23 seconds left gave the Huskies the 3-point cushion and Rodney Purvis put an exclamation point on the win with a dunk at the buzzer.
Adams hit seven of his 10 shots in the second half after going 1 for 6 before intermission.
“For Jalen to come out and not practice and be a little winded and fight through it, it means a lot to our team,” said coach Kevin Ollie.
Amida Brimah, UConn’s 7-foot center, opened the game with an emphatic dunk from the baseline, and another on a lob pass and the Huskies ran out to an 8-3 lead.
But Memphis quickly figured things out.
A layup and a 3-pointer from Martin on consecutive trips gave the Tigers their first lead at 9-8. That was part of an 18-4 Memphis run that put the Tigers up 21-12.
A 3-point play from Dedric Lawson gave Memphis its first double-digit lead at 29-18 and his jumper put them up 36-19.
Lawson finished with 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
“UConn made plays down the stretch and we didn’t,” said Memphis coach Tubby Smith. “We had some opportunities and we had some defensive breakdowns in the second half that cost us the game. They made shots and didn’t quit. It was just a tough loss.”
Memphis: The Tigers have lost three of four and two in a row for the first time this season. They fall a half game behind UConn in the race for fourth place in the AAC. The top five teams in the conference will get a bye in next month’s tournament, which will be played in Hartford.
UConn: The Huskies shot 33 percent in the first half and 54.2 percent in the second.
BEHIND THE ARC
The Huskies went 5 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half after going 2 of 12 before intermission. UConn made just 4 of 20 shots from 3-point range in the team’s first meeting, a 70-61 Memphis win in Tennessee last month.
STILL ON THE BENCH
Baylor transfer Chad Rykhoek did not play, despite practicing for the first time this week since suffering a dislocated ankle on Dec. 17. The 6-foot-11 grad student has missed 16 games He had been averaging 5.9 points in the 11 games he played before his injury. He never played at Baylor because of a string of injuries and surgeries.
HE SAID IT
“Combined between the men and the women, we’ve won 103 straight,” said UConn coach Kevin Ollie. Geno Auriemma’s women’s team extended their NCAA record winning streak to 100 games with a win over South Carolina on Monday.
Memphis: The Tigers have a week off before visiting Cincinnati next Thursday. The Bearcats are 23-2 and 12-1 in the American.
UConn: The Huskies go back on the road for games at Temple on Sunday and Houston next Wednesday.