Adams, Gilbert help UConn end losing streak, beat SMU 76-64
By PAT EATON-ROBB
STORRS, Conn. (AP) UConn coach Dan Hurley woke up Thursday to a text message from guard Jalen Adams. UConn's star wanted to let his coach know that he was locked in and ready for a fight.
Adams scored 21 points, Alterique Gilbert added 19 and UConn snapped a three-game losing streak with a 76-64 win over SMU on Thursday night.
Christian Vital chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds for the Huskies (10-6, 1-2 American Athletic Conference), who had lost their first two conference games.
Hurley said he had been under the covers, worrying about his team, before his phone went off at about 8 a.m.
"When I saw that, I sprung out of bed...and was recharged," he said. "Just to see that this morning, I knew he was going to be good today."
Adams hit seven of his 10 shots and the Huskies shot 52 percent from the floor, including a blistering 65 percent as they built a 42-31 halftime lead.
"I know things haven't been looking so up for us and today was an opportunity to turn that around," Adams said. "I sent that text to him, sent it out to the guys in the group chat just to let them know that it was war time and we had to go to war today, which we did."
UConn led by as many as 15 points in the second half on a 3-pointer from Gilbert, before SMU made a run. The Mustangs cut the lead to six after a putback by Isiaha Mike with 12 minutes to go.
But the Huskies answered. It was 64-52 after Josh Carlton followed up a Gilbert miss on a drive to the basket and the lead was 15 again when Gilbert hit a pullup in the lane with five minutes left.
"Our defense wasn't good enough from the six-point deficit to really start locking them down and giving us a chance to win," said SMU coach Tim Jankovich.
SMU: The Mustangs had held their previous four opponents to under 40-percent shooting and 25 percent from 3-point range. UConn hit 22 of 42 shots and was 9 of 19 from behind the arc... SMU fell to 2-1 in true road games this season, with wins over Georgetown and Tulane.
UConn: UConn: The Huskies improved to 6-0 in their first American Athletic Conference games each year at Gampel Pavilion.
SMU was in foul trouble all game and four players (Whitt, McMurray, Mike, Ethan Chargois) each finished the game with four fouls. Jankovich said that hindered what his team could do, especially when UConn was building its first-half lead.
"We had half our team sitting over by me and we were playing out of position," he said. "We don't have that kind of depth."
UConn's coach is known for his enthusiasm and earlier this season followed a player into the stands to praise him for diving after a loose ball. He took that a bit farther on Thursday. Hurley got tangled up in the scramble for a loose ball on the sideline in the second half and was knocked to the floor himself. He came up applauding his team's effort.
"I kind of took that (charge) on purpose, just to show our guys that if your coach is willing to take one there, you got to be willing to take one," he joked.
SMU: The Mustangs return home to host Tulsa on Saturday.
UConn: The Huskies hit the road for a game on Saturday night at Cincinnati.
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Updated January 10, 2019