Adams scores 31 to lead UConn to 87-71 win over Tulane
By PAT EATON-ROBB
STORRS, Conn. (AP) UConn hasn't had many comfortable wins in conference play over the past two seasons, but the Huskies showed Saturday they can dominate when they are clicking.
Jalen Adams scored a season-high 31 points and UConn beat Tulane 87-71. Josh Carlton and Christian Vital each added 18 points for the Huskies (11-8, 2-4 American Athletic Conference), who snapped a two-game losing skid.
"This is a challenging program, it's a program that is used to winning," said Vital, who reached 1,000 points for his career with a 3-point shot in the first half. "When we signed up to come here, we should have known what the responsibilities were coming to a program like this. I think guys are growing up and we're maturing and we're just starting to gel as a unit. Hopefully tonight was an indication of more things to come"
The Huskies never trailed, but were up just 44-41 before going on a 16-5 second-half run.
Adam's double-clutch shot in the lane after a turnover gave UConn a 21-point lead with just under five minutes to play, effectively putting the game out of reach.
"We just fixed our mindset and stopped worrying about offense," Adams said. "We just directed our efforts to the defensive end and knew that was where we kind of have to take the challenge."
Carlton opened the game with a layup and the Huskies ran out to a 9-2 lead. They built that to 14 before Tulane began chipping away.
A driving layup by Jordan Cornish cut the deficit to 35-30 and Tulane trailed 37-30 at halftime.
The Green Wave shot 49 percent from the floor, but was just 3 of 16 from 3-point range.
"We have to control the tempo of the game more and we've got to finish the opportunities we have," said Tulane coach Mike Dunleavy. "Shot selection is paramount."
The game was moved up several hours from a planned 7:30 p.m. start to avoid a winter storm that was forecast to move into the area.
THE BIG PICTURE
Tulane: The Green Wave has never beaten UConn, falling to 0-7 against the Huskies.
UConn: UConn needed some good news this week after announcing Thursday that its athletic division lost more than $40 million last year, including more than $5 million in men's basketball. On Friday, the school self-imposed sanctions on the program for NCAA violations under former coach Kevin Ollie. Those will include the loss of a scholarship next season. The NCAA has not said if it will impose other penalties.
"It's been a tough week," coach Dan Hurley said. "There's been a lot swirling around. Eventually it'll be behind us and UConn will be back to doing what UConn does. It's just going to take us a little bit of time to get there."
POLLEY WANT A BASKET
UConn 3-point specialist Tyler Polley went 0-3 from behind the arc and is now just 4-for-26 from 3-point range in conference play.
UConn forward Sidney Wilson did not play after sitting out the last two practices with a sore thumb and sprained ankle. Hurley said the injuries are not serious.
"If he doesn't play next Saturday, then dudes from the Bronx are soft," Hurley joked. "He'll know that because I'm going to say it all week."
Hurley said when Tulane cut the lead to three points, his message to the Huskies was simple.
"Do you want to give yourselves a chance to have a season? We haven't had a chance to have a season here in some time, so are we really going to do this right now? Are we going to really lay down defensively like this? They took the message to heart and I thought we picked up our play."
Tulane: The Green Wave return home to face UCF on Wednesday
UConn: The Huskies have a week off before another game at Gampel Pavilion next Saturday against Wichita State.
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Updated January 19, 2019