Coming into Saturday afternoon’s game against Ohio State, Connecticut had been struggling in the first half. Be it with energy problems or with missed shots, the Huskies just haven’t been particularly good early on in games.
Forward Shonn Miller set out to change that.
Miller threw down that massive dunk seen above over 6-11 center Trevor Thompson to kick-start the Huskies to 45 points in the first half and a 21-point lead at halftime. The Huskies easily defeated Ohio State 75-55 to improve to 6-3.
Miller had a strong day overall, scoring 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Rodney Purvis was terrific as well, scoring 13 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out five assists. Omar Calhoun led the team in scoring with 14 points off the bench.
This was Connecticut’s most complete performance of the season thus far. The guards particularly got a ton of penetration, leading to either finishes at the rim or kickouts to send the young, frenzied Buckeye team into rotation. They also dominated the paint on both ends, winning the points in the paint battle 38-20. The Buckeyes simply couldn’t do anything to score against Amida Brimah, and the Connecticut big man himself had a few rather large slams off of dump-offs and alley-oops.
The win says a lot about the heights Connecticut could reach this season, but it also says a good amount about how far away Ohio State is right now. The Buckeyes (4-5) just looked flustered in this one, likely the result of having no seniors and only one junior on the roster. Freshman guard JaQuan Lyle particularly struggled with the high-level defensive pressure from the Connecticut guards, shooting 0-for-7 and turning the ball over three times.
The Buckeyes are the fifth-youngest team in the country according to KenPom’s experience calculator, and that shows. The freshmen the team is relying upon — Lyle, Daniel Giddens, Austin Grandstaff and A.J. Harris — are still learning high-level defensive concepts and still adjusting to the speed of the game on offense. It’ll be a process throughout the year, and it’s likely that they’ll look much better in February than they do now.
But until those players can get to where they need to be, this group could be a pretty ugly watch for Buckeye fans.