Huskies Hold Off Houston; Advance In AAC

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Jalen Adams scored 18 of his 23 points in the second
half to lead sixth-seeded UConn over No. 3 Houston 74-63 on Friday night in the
quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament.

Rodney Purvis added 18 points, while freshmen Christian Vital and Vance Jackson
each had 12 for the Huskies (16-16), who have won two straight after limping
into the postseason with four losses.

The Huskies lost to Houston twice in the regular season and were 0-6 against
the top-teams in the conference, but won the third meeting on their homecourt in
front of a loud pro-UConn crowd.

The Huskies reached the conference championship in Hartford two years ago as
the sixth seed, but lost to SMU.

“I just want to thank the crowd, they were awesome,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie
said. “I could feel the energy in there and I know our players fed off it.”

Rob Gray Jr. scored 25 points for the Cougars (21-10), Galen Robinson Jr. added
17 and Damyean Dotson 15. Houston outscored UConn 28-16 in the paint.

The Cougars cut the deficit to two several times in the second half, but after
Davis made it 44-42 with 13:14, they could not fight off the energy of the crowd
or the Huskies.

“Let’s be honest, Connecticut did a great job feeding off that crowd,”
Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “Their crowd was tremendous. That might have
been the toughest crowd we have played in front of all year outside of SMU and
at Cincinnati.

“That was a huge, huge deal for them having played (Friday) night.”

Adams started a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer that opened the game back up for the
Huskies, who shot 63 percent (12 for 19) in the half. Adams was 6-for-12
shooting and 9 of 10 at the foul line, with five assists.

“I think I am getting a lot more healthy game by game,” said Adams, who has
played 79 minutes in two tournament wins despite a moderate left ankle sprain.
“I think my teammates are doing a great job being able to present me with some
possessions.”

UConn shot 54.5 percent for the game and was 8 for 17 on 3-pointers. Houston
hit 41.3 percent of its shots and was 6 for 19 on 3-pointers.

After falling being 20-9, the Huskies stormed back in the final 10 minutes of
the first half to lead 35-26. Jackson scored seven points in the comeback and
UConn’s defense held Houston without a field goal in the final 5:57 of the half.

“We knew if we got stops, we were going to be able to get back in the game,
stop them in transition,” Purvis said.

Vital had 10 first-half points on 4-for-5 shooting, while Jackson was 3 for 3.
The Huskies, who fell behind early and trailed 20-9 at one point, were also 7 of
9 from the foul line.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: The Cougars have been knocked out in back-to-back years in the
quarterfinals as the No. 2 and 3 seed, respectively.

UConn: The Huskies, who have three players out for the season with injuries,
have knocked Cincinnati out of the conference tournament three straight years.
UConn has played in all three AAC finals.

HIGHLIGHT REEL

After UConn fell behind early by double digits, Jackson helped wake up the
Huskies and the home crowd with a thunderous dunk with 9:25 left in the first
half.

STAR WATCH

Purvis has scored in double figures in eight of his nine appearances in AAC
postseason games. He is averaging 16.8 points per game for his career in the
tournament.

UP NEXT

Houston exits in the quarterfinals for the third time in four years, but
remains in line for a bid in the NIT.

UConn won its second straight and will play No. 2 Cincinnati in the semifinals.
The Bearcats swept the regular-season series.

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