Providence Pounds No. 19 UConn 81-66

Providence Pounds No. 19 UConn 81-66 PROVIDENCE — Beating the top-ranked team in the country last week didn’t give Connecticut much momentum to build on.

One game after upsetting Texas to
reclaim a spot in the rankings, the Huskies fell to Providence 81-66 on
Wednesday night when Jamine Peterson had 23 points and 14 rebounds.

Peterson scored eight of the Friars’ 14 straight points as they completed their comeback from a 10-point, first-half deficit.

“We just took our foot off the gas.
We thought that we had the game won already,” said UConn forward Gavin
Edwards
, who scored 17 points. “Everybody was just resting on their
laurels from the Texas game, and as a result, nobody really came out to
play, and we got beat.”

The second-half collapse was all-too
familiar to Providence (12-8, 4-4 Big East), which led South Florida by
12 with 2:05 left on Saturday night before losing in overtime. But this
time the Friars were on the other end, and the crowd at the Dunkin’
Donuts Center celebrated by storming the court even as the final
seconds ticked off the clock.

“I was pretty confident that we’d
bounce back. I couldn’t have dreamed that we’d bounce back like this,”
Providence coach Keno Davis said. “If we don’t blow that lead, I think
you can make a case that we don’t win tonight. I think that will help
us as we get into the Big East.”

Kemba Walker also scored 17 points
for the Huskies, adding eight rebounds and seven assists. UConn (13-7,
3-4) lost for the first time under substitute coach George Blaney, who
took over Jan. 19 when Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun took a medical leave.

“He would have given them a jolt,
I’ll tell you that,” Blaney said. “I would have liked to have had him
there tonight, that’s for sure.”

Sharaud Curry scored 18, and Bilal
Dixon
had 11 points and 12 rebounds in Providence’s biggest win since
last year’s defeat of then-No. 1 Pittsburgh.

Five of the Friars’ next seven opponents are in the Top 10.

“We can beat anybody in the
country,” Davis said. “We have enough talent, but we have to play
extremely hard. But we’ve got to learn in a hurry, because we’re such a
young team we’ve got to speed up the process.”

UConn was ranked as high as 10th in
The Associated Press Top 25 before three straight losses dropped it out
of the polls. It was just one week, though, before the Huskies beat St.
John’s and then-No. 1 Texas to jump back into the rankings at No. 19.

Blaney told his players: “You did
something historical on Saturday, and if you don’t [play] with the
right attitude, if you don’t come playing 40 minutes, a team is going
to be jacked up against you, the fans are going to be jacked up, and
it’s going to be a tough game. We knew that.”

UConn led by 10 in the first half,
but Providence came back to take a 36-35 lead at the break. The Huskies
led 58-55 with 9:36 left before PC scored the next 14 points, 20 of the
next 23 and 26 of 31 until Walker made a meaningless 3-pointer in the
final minute.

This time, the Friars were able to finish it off.

“That game’s done. People are going
to forget about South Florida. Now they’re going to be talking about
UConn,” Davis said. “And when UConn’s done, they’ll be talking about
Cincinnati.”

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