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Daniels shakes off slump in UConn's win over BU

POSTED November 17, 2013
BY Patrick Tiscia
Twitter: @PatrickTiscia

STORRS – DeAndre Daniels took the pass from 10 feet away and, in one vicious motion, took out his early season frustrations on the rim.

And he also put to rest any hopes for an upset-minded Boston University team.

Daniels scored a game and season-high 24 points, five more than his season total entering the day, in leading the UConn men’s basketball team to a 77-60 victory over the Terriers at Gampel Pavilion Sunday afternoon.

After the Huskies jumped out to a 19-4 lead, BU fought back with a 12-0 run and trailed by only five at the half, 37-32, when D.J. Irving hit a three at the buzzer. The Terriers even took a 43-42 advantage in the second half on a basket from Irving before the Huskies pulled away.

Ryan Boatright scored twice, including a two-handed dunk off a baseline drive, and Amida Brimah added a three-point play.

With a five-point lead, Shabazz Napier grabbed an offensive rebound (one of his 12 boards) and hit Daniels on the run. Daniels caught the pass and threw down a powerful dunk with his right hand, much to the delight of the 9,195 on hand.

The Terriers never recovered.

“It felt good,” Daniels said. “Shabazz made a nice pass off the rebound, fed me and I was able to finish. Everybody was pretty amped up and we were able to get the momentum back.”

Napier, who made only three of his nine shots, had no intention of shooting there. Instead, he hit Daniels in full stride for one of his six assists.

“I was missing so many shots that I didn’t feel comfortable taking that layup,” Napier said. “I saw DeAndre and he made a great play and dunked over (Travis Robinson). I’ll definitely take that over my layup.”

Daniels’ struggles included a scoreless contest against Yale and a scoreless first half in the Detroit game Thursday. Against Detroit, he scored 11 points in the second half and carried over his strong play to Sunday.

On the first possession, Daniels set the theme for the day as he exploited the middle of BU’s zone for a basket. In all, he made 10 of his 18 shots and finished two points shy of his career-high, set last season against DePaul.

“I was terrible in the first two games,” the junior admitted. “I wasn’t able to knock down my shots, but I didn’t let that get to me. I just stayed aggressive and was able to make some (today).”

“I wanted to run the first play for him, just to get him going a bit,” noted UConn head coach Kevin Ollie. “It was good for him to get to the free throw line and to see that ball going in. And then he was off to the races.

“I’m proud of DeAndre,” Ollie continued. “One thing I never heard from DeAndre was excuses. He went through a little mini slump, but let’s talk about the last three halves he’s put together – they’re pretty (darn) good.”

The Terriers’ zone, at times, flustered UConn, but the Huskies, showing the depth of their offensive capabilities, still finished with a strong 49 percent shooting percentage. A big part why was Daniels’ presence in the middle as BU had no answers for his 6-foot-8 size and athletic ability.

“Shabazz kept telling me the middle would be open and to take those shots,” Daniels said. “There were a lot of chances there today. I was focused on getting in the post and making some great moves.”

The Huskies, unbeaten at 4-0, have been able to get by without Daniels at his best thanks to their depth. This week, with games at Madison Square Garden against stronger opponents in Boston College and either Indiana or Washington, it will be a lot harder to overcome subpar games from him.

His effort on Sunday gives the Huskies hope they won't have to.

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