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UConn struggling with late-game execution, COVID pauses

The Huskies are coming off of a pause, and a tough overtime game against Seton Hall.

Connecticut v Seton Hall Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

St. John’s next opponent, Connecticut, brings in a 10-4 record to their home tilt against the Johnnies. Dan Hurley and his experienced UConn men’s basketball team have looked like legitimate contenders in the Big East, with some significant wins against big-time opponents in the College Basketball realm like Auburn (now ranked #4 in the Associated Press poll).

Even with all the success the team has had endured this year, they still have had challenges. Like St. John’s and many teams throughout the nation, the Huskies got hit by Covid-19 hard enough that it cancelled games and paused their season.

In December, many of the Huskies staff and nine players tested positive or showed symptoms, forcing the postponement of two games — adding the Huskies to a list of 190 programs that to suspended play due to Covid-19.

“Pausing again and that feeling of being isolated and away from your team and the season and your purpose, starts to weigh on you,” Dan Hurley told the AP.

Their first game back on the court was against the Seton Hall last Saturday. The Huskies picked up their fourth loss, though their roster was shortened — barely meeting the criteria to make the NCAA-mandated number of scholarship players available.

The high effort overtime game was tough, but highlighted some on-the-course concerns in their execution in the fourth quarter. The point guard play struggled when guard RJ COle was not on the floor (Jalen Gaffney took his place), and some of the late execution did not work well.

“We’re going to be in a lot of games like this the rest of the way and we’ll get more comfortable in them,” Hurley said Monday. “Games like this have a way of evening themselves out, hopefully, over the course of the year,” Hurley said.

“We have to stop losing,” Hurley lamented after the loss. “I’m tired of losing. We’re all tired of losing now. We’ve had severe losses, four of them. We could have won any of those games. We easily could be sitting as a top-5 team in the country right now if we closed out games a little bit better.” Hurley said to the Journal Inquirer.

Expect the Huskies to pay close attention to late-game execution against a St. John’s team that can score in spurts. Can the Red Storm keep the game close enough to make the Huskies nervous?