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Notes & Quotes: UConn Notches Comeback Victory Over Memphis, 63-62

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Ian Bethune

HARTFORD - Jalen Adams scored 17 of his team-high 19 points in the second half to lead UConn back from a double-digit deficit to stun Memphis 63-62 in front of 9,631 fans Thursday night at the XL Center.

UConn, which moved into fourth place in the AAC with five regular-season games to play, finished with four players in double figures - Christian Vital had 13, Amida Brimah 11 and Rodney Purvis finished with 10.

The Tigers (18-9, 8-6) were led by 13 apiece from Markel Crawford and Craig Randall.

Memphis led 40-26 at the break and by as much as 17 points - at 3:10 of the first half when it led 36-19.

The Huskies (13-12, 8-5 American Athletic Conference) have won six of seven and are over .500 for the first time this season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

1. BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: The Huskies trailed by 10 points - 56-46 - with 8:20 remaining, and 58-50 with 6:07 left. However, the defense held the Tigers to four points the rest of the way to claim the Huskies' third straight win.

Adams was awesome in the second half, but credit Kentan Facey for shutting down Memphis forward Dedric Lawson (13 points), who managed just one basket in the second half.

Kevin Ollie: "Just a great second half by our guys. I am so proud of this group. They are resilient and they keep fighting. ... Those last five minutes, that's UConn basketball."

Memphis coach Tubby Smith: "Certainly I thought UConn made plays down the stretch and we didn't. We had some opportunities, had some defensive breakdowns in the second half that cost us the game."

2. WHO NEEDS PRACTICE? Adams was sick all week and unable to practice, but he shook off the illness and a poor start to lead the charge in the second half. After shooting just 1-of-6 in the first half with two points, Adams was 7-for-10 in the second and gave UConn the lead for good with a floater at 1:59, He added six assist and two steals with just two turnovers.

Adams: "I didn't even know I gave us the lead, I thought I just tied it up. Amida set a great screen that freed me up ... so I was able to get to one of my shots. Me and coach Ollie work on that shot all the time."

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Ian Bethune

3. CHANGE UP: The Tigers were getting some easy layups inside, especially with Brimah out due to foul trouble, and that kept countering UConn's comeback bids in the second half.

Ollie opted to switch to a zone and Brimah came back with 4:40 left to help plug the middle. Memphis managed just two points the rest of the game, which came on a dunk with UConn up 63-62. The Tigers shot just 33.3 percent in the second half (48.1 percent in the first) and Lawson was 1 of 6 thanks to Facey's play.

Smith: "We seem to have a hard time against half-court defenses, especially zones ... and they made a good coaching move and they responded."


4. A VITAL COG: He's still prone to some rookie mistakes, but Christian Vital has become a huge guy off the bench for the Huskies. He shot 5-of-10 from the field with four assists, one steal and one turnover. Plus, his dunk after slipping behind the Memphis' defense gave UConn a 63-60 lead with 23 seconds left.

Ollie: "It's just a play that we run. We send one guy deep and we try to open it for some other shooters. It was a great pass by Rodney. I hate that he dunked it because if he had missed it I would have smoked him tomorrow. But he made it and he's got so much spunk in him, so I wouldn't have laid that ball up, but that kid I can't say enough about him."


WHAT NEEDS WORK

1. SHOWING UP IN THE FIRST HALF: The Huskies led 8-3 out of the gate, but then let Memphis own the first half. Randall had 11 points and Lawson nine in the half as the Tigers led by as much as the road team closed the half with a 17-8 run in the final 6:11. The fast-break was particularly effective as Memphis outscored UConn 9-2 there.

Adams: "Usually coach comes in yelling at us (when we are down at the half) ... but today he came in there with a lot confidence and he just told us we were going to win this game."


NEXT UP

UConn travels to Philadelphia to take on Temple on Sunday at 4 p.m.

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