Tarin Smith scored 22 points to lead UConn over Missouri-Kansas City 94-66 Sunday at Gampel Pavilion.
The fifth-year senior guard shot 10 for 12 from the field to lead the Huskies (2-0). Smith transferred to UConn in the offseason from Duquesne, where he was the Atlantic-10 Sixth Man of the Year last season.
“Whatever the team needs,” said Smith, who has been on a minutes restriction after suffering a quad injury over the summer. “I think I just have fun playing basketball and with guys that are as talented as the guys I play with, and just getting people involved is fun for me.”
Jalen Adams had 20 points, Alterique Gilbert scored 12 and Christian Vital added 10 rebounds in a balanced Husky offense. The last time UConn scored at least 90 points in a game was Feb. 8, 2017, when it beat South Florida 97-51.
UConn won its opener 80-70 on Thursday over Morehead State, but struggled to close the game. The Huskies had no problem this time after leading 50-33 at the half.
“I thought we showed a lot more of the killer relentlessness for longer stretches when we had a chance to extend the lead,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said.
Danny Dixon led UMKC (0-3) with 15 points and Brandon McKissic added 10.
Tied 12-12, UConn used a 23-3 run to take control. Eight of the nine Huskies who played scored at least a basket in the first half.
“You have to give a lot of credit to UConn,” UMKC head coach Kareem Richardson said. “First and foremost they defend their tails off and make everything physical and make everything tough.”
Smith shot 7 of 9 from the field and had 15 points off the bench. UConn had only 18 bench points in its opening win against Morehead State, but finished with 36 in this win.
The Huskies scored 13 points off UMKC’s seven turnovers and picked up 14 fastbreak points.
UMKC, which was playing its third straight road game, held its last lead at 10-9 at 16:01.
After shooting 53 percent in the first half, UConn cooled off in the second, making just 2 of 13 attempts in the opening seven-plus minutes. UMKC was only able to cut its deficit to 58-43 during that stretch before UConn’s offense awoke.
HE SAID IT
“I think Tarin is one of our very best players,” Hurley said. “I recruited him at Rhode Island and he went to Nebraska on me. I guess that’s why I’m not going to start him … maybe I hold grudges.”
The Huskies have been looking for their young frontcourt to emerge and this time sophomore Tyler Polley took a step forward with 12 points, including two 3-pointers, and four rebounds with one steal in 25 minutes.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
For the second straight game UConn finished on the plus side of the assist-to-turnover ratio with 17 and 12, respectively. It was a problem area for the Huskies a year ago when they only accomplished it eight times.
UMKC: The Kangaroos lost their third straight game against a major program and continue to look for their first win of the season.
UConn: After opening 2-0 at home under first-year head coach Hurley, the opponents will get stronger for the Huskies in the 2K Empire Classic in New York.
UMKC: Plays Morehead State on Thursday in Cheney, Wash.
UConn: Plays Syracuse on Thursday in New York
Source: The Associated Press