We’ve all accepted that college basketball has become a guard’s game, but Connecticut’s 71-67 overtime win over West Virginia went to the extreme. Shabazz Napier had 26 points and Jeremy Lamb added 22. Freshman guard Justin Boatright scored 10 points off the bench. No other player had more than seven points.
We understand that Alex Oriakhi and Andre Drummond are limited when it comes to playing with their backs to the basket, but UConn’s guards didn’t even look their way in the second half unless they fed one of the two on the drive.
At some point this style offense is going to give. Napier and Lamb shot a combined 16 of 34 from the field. Boatright took nine shots, while the rest of the team shot a combined 6-for-8 from the field. Balance will be necessary if Connecticut expects to do any serious damage in the NCAA Tournament.
Speaking of which, Wednesday’s win over West Virginia likely punched the Huskies’ tickets.
Another issue facing Connecticut was their work on the boards. West Virginia out rebounded the Huskies, 47-31. You’d think Oriakhi and Drummond would have done a little better.
We know West Virginia’s Kevin Jones (21 points, 10 rebounds) is a double-double machine and the best offensive rebounder in the nation, but Connecticut has got to a better job on the boards. They came in with a +3 margin, not exactly an overwhelming number when you consider how big Oriakhi and Drummond are.
All of the aforementioned doubts notwithstanding, when Lamb and Napier are playing well, Connecticut can play with anyone. Oriakhi and Drummond weren’t great offensively, but the blocked a combined six shots and played great defense in the paint, especially in overtime.
West Virginia shot 0-for-11 from the field in the extra session and could barely get close to the rim on most of their drives.