The UConn menâ€™s basketball teams continues to wait for star James Bouknight to return. And the Huskies continue to struggle while they wait.
Providence beat UConn 70-59 Wednesday night at Alumni Hall, sending UConn to its fourth loss in the last five games.
Playing their seventh straight game without Bouknight -- the Huskies are 3-4 in those games -- the Huskies faded in the second half.
In the first meeting between the Huskies and Friars since March 9, 2013, the hosts finished the game on a 12-4 run.
â€śIn a game of two teams that were in desperate need of a win, they played better and they were tougher," UConn coach Dan Hurley said.
Coming off the bench for the first time this season guard R.J. Cole had 14 points to lead the Huskies (8-5, 5-5 Big East). Tyrese Martin added 13 points and nine rebounds, while Adama Sanogo had nine points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots.
Nate Watson and David Duke scored 17 each points for Providence (10-10, 6-8).
Leading by one point at halftime, UConn allowed the Friars to take control after the break and found itself trailing by 11 at 55-44 with just over nine minutes to play in the game.
The Huskies briefly pulled within three on a Martin layup with 3:57 to go that made it 58-55, but the Friars pulled away from there.
Fresh off his 20-point performance against Seton Hall, sophomore guard Jalen Gaffney entered the starting lineup. Senior forward Tyler Polley also was among the starters, seemingly an effort to get UConnâ€™s sometimes slow-starting offense off on the right foot.
It did not immediately work out as planned.
One game after missing its first five shots from the floor and allowing more than four minutes of game clock to elapse before scoring their first points, the Huskies were again putrid offensively at the gameâ€™s outset.
UConn missed seven of its first eight shots, though its defense helped stem the tide early and the visitors were down a mere five points midway through the first half.
An 8-0 run, highlighted by a Cole 3-pointer and a Sanogo and-one, briefly gave UConn the lead at 16-13.
After a back-and-forth half, which featured Cole directing a late 10-0 run and Sanogo blocking four shots, the Huskies pulled ahead 34-33 at the break.
Hurley said after the game that Bouknight was "not close" to playing Wednesday.
â€śHe needs more time,â€ť Hurley said.