UConn big man Alex Oriakhi had been off his game the last couple of weeks. So much so that coach Jim Calhoun was concerned his prized center may have a lost a little fire.
So Calhoun thought he would "send a message" by bringing him off the bench in Tuesday's first-round Big East Tournament game against DePaul.
"He's been struggling," Calhoun said.
Oriakhi (9.8 ppg, 8.3 reb) was averaging just four points and 4.2 rebounds over his last three games.
The 6-9, 240-pound sophomore found his groove with 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting, and 19 rebounds in the Huskies' 97-71 win over DePaul.
"To have [Oriakhi] rebound like he did...it was very, very important," Calhoun said.
Oriakhi's rebounding effort tied a Huskies tournament mark of 19, set by Travis Knight against Seton Hall in 1996.
"Coach told me to go after the basketball," Oriakhi said. "I definitely wanted to make it up to my teammates."
Of course not every team is fortunate to have that kind of depth and balance. Freshman guard Jeremy Lamb picked up some of the slack and scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half.
The Huskies also got help from Shabazz Napier (11 points, 8 rebounds) and Jamal McDaniels-Coombs (11 points).