Connecticut downs Tulane 62-53
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Rodney Purvis could have gotten down on himself after missing a couple of layups in the second half against Tulane. Instead, he took out his frustrations on the Green Wave, hitting two big 3-pointers down the stretch.
Ryan Boatright scored 18 points with nine rebounds, Purvis finished with 17 points and Connecticut rallied to beat Tulane 62-53 on Saturday.
Trailing 44-39 with 6:40 left, the Huskies (13-9, 6-4 American Athletic Conference) went on a 16-2 run to take control and snap a four-game road losing streak.
Purvis started the spurt with a 3-pointer. Daniel Hamilton hit a jumper from the foul line to tie the score at 45. Boatright gave UConn the lead for good, 48-45, on a drive to the basket and free throw after being fouled with 4:40 left.
Purvis then drained another 3-pointer to make the score 53-46 with 2:57 left.
"We normally don't really respond too well to adversity, but it was a great time to respond today," Purvis said. "I had to let those two plays go and move on."
UConn coach Kevin Ollie and Boatright admitted they were worried about how Purvis would react to his two easy misses.
"When he plays with confidence and he's aggressive like that, he can make those shots all the time," Boatright said. "He just needs to not get robotic out there and go out and play."
Louis Dabney had 13 points for Tulane (13-10, 4-7), which dropped its fifth in a row. Jay Hook added 11 points.
Tulane, which led 27-24 at the half, endured two long droughts in the second half, going more than five minutes early without scoring and failing to make a field goal for nearly six minutes after Dabney's 3-point play at the 6:49 mark.
"The last five minutes were exceptional," Ollie said. "We wanted to not play in so many spurts, but I really like our guys coming together and playing with effort and intensity those last five minutes and just turning it up to a level five."
UConn seven-foot center Amida Brimah, who had blocked 18 shots in his last five games, had a career-high eight blocks and was dominant defensively in the first half.
He swatted away two shots on one possession, one at the rim and the second on the perimeter, leading to Purvis's transition layup.
A little later, he intimidated Tulane's Josh Hearlihy into passing the ball outside from under the basket. The Huskies intercepted it, and Brimah finished that fast break with an emphatic dunk.
Tulane still managed to take the lead by halftime, getting offense from unlikely sources as nine players scored but none had more than five points.
Hearlihy, a sophomore averaging 1.5 points, matched his career high with five points on a reverse layup and a long-range shot.
Reserve forward Payton Henson fed reserve guard Kajon Mack with a perfect bounce pass that led to a 3-point play. Freshman center Dylan Osetkowski scored a quick basket after an inbounds pass with one second left on the shot clock. Backup point guard Keith Pinckney cut to the basket along the baseline and scored off a nice pass from Henson.
Tulane, which last played on Jan. 31 in a 55-37 loss at Temple, did not get the same contributions in the second half.
"We really tried to manage the minutes to keep our energy up," Tulane coach Ed Conroy said. "But I don't think there's any doubt we looked a little fatigued down the stretch."
UConn: This was the 14th time this season the defending national champions have trailed at the halftime. The Huskies are now 5-9 in those games. UConn hit 22 of 44 shots. The Huskies committed 10 turnovers in the first half but had only four in the second half.
Tulane: Point guard Jonathan Stark, who led Conference USA in minutes played last season, sat out the last 13:11 of the first half with two fouls. The Green Wave used freshman Keith Pinckney, Louis Dabney and Josh Hearlihy to fill his minutes and outscored UConn 20-13 while Stark sat.
Boatright, who had hit 25 3-pointers in his last five games, had only one trey but hurt Tulane in other ways. His nine rebounds were a game high, as were his five assists. He also hit all five of his free throws. "Some of us half to realize this is our last shot," he said. "We can't afford to lose any more games or it's NIT action."
Tulane, which had shot 32.4 percent in its last four games, connected only 32.7 percent this time, finishing 18 of 55. The Green Wave was 8 of 28 in the second half.
UConn: The Huskies host league-leading Tulsa on Thursday.
Tulane: The Green Wave travels to Cincinnati on Feb. 14.