AUSTIN — As the UConn men’s basketball team prepares to face the Knights of Columbus on Wednesday night in front of a sold-out crowd, it is easy to forget the moment in November that the team went from a dark cloud to a bright spot.
The UConn Huskies played at home against Notre Dame in the ACC tournament semifinals.
In a loss that went largely unnoticed at the time, UConn lost in five minutes, falling 89-88.
In the wake of the loss, UMass head coachand his players were asked about the defeat.
It was one of the most difficult losses of their lives, they said, and they just felt the loss.
But what has been one of their most important lessons in their basketball career has been how to get better, they added.
“We just have to get our heads together, find a way to find a rhythm and figure it out.
It has been a struggle,” said senior guardand sophomore guard.
“But as a team, we just have a lot of faith and trust in each other.”
The Huskies lost to the Fighting Irish on Nov. 5 and went 0-2 that season, their last win coming in the 2016 ACC Tournament semifinal against Clemson.UConn went 10-0 in its first 10 games.
The Huskies finished the season with a 15-3 record.
The Husky basketball program began a three-game winning streak, the longest in the country, on Feb. 13 against Georgia Tech.
UConn went 9-0 and finished the regular season with an 11-2 mark.
“I think the biggest thing for us has been just the confidence, our teammates, just being so confident and confident in each others’ abilities and our abilities to be able to play at a high level,” said UConn coachsaid.
“I think we have gotten better and better each year and I think this year is the biggest year yet.”UConn and UMass both have an impressive resume, winning at least two ACC regular-season titles in the last five years.
But they are both looking to return to the tournament for the first time since 2011-12, when they both were ranked in the top 20.UMass will look to bounce back in the Big Ten Conference tournament.
UMass went 3-5 in conference play, but is undefeated at home this season, with victories over Michigan State, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Michigan.
The Golden Eagles are averaging 103.0 points and 109.4 rebounds per game this season.
UMA will be looking to win the regular-game series against UConn for the third straight year, having lost to UConn last year.
The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
It will be the first meeting between the Huskies and Knights.