UVU men’s basketball overcomes slow start, tops N. Illinois

Ugly game looks just fine in win column

 

The UVU Wolverines eventually found their way down the path to victory Monday night after a sloppy start and less-than-stellar shooting. With the 58-47 win over the Huskies of Northern Illinois, the Wolverines picked up their fourth win of the season to go along with three losses.

 

The first half was not a display of offensive brilliance by either team. The Huskies and Wolverines combined for 13 turnovers with neither team shooting better than 39 percent from the field. The second half wasn’t much better as both teams’ shooting percentage dropped, NIU’s by nearly six percent while UVU’s was just over a one percent decline.

 

The two factors that played a large part in the Wolverines’ ability to pull ahead by as many as 18 at one point were 3-pointers and free-throws. UVU knocked down seven treys compared to NIU’s four and converted 11-of-16 from the line while NIU was a dismal 3-of-12.

 

At times the Wolverines seemed to hesitate for a split second and that indecision led to missing rushed lay-up attempts, turning the ball over with inaccurate passing, and even having some shots altered or blocked. At other times UVU appeared to be able to get whatever shot they wanted. That inconsistency is something that coach Hunsaker looks to correct.

 

“We’re not a polished unit right now,” Hunsaker said. “It’s not a well-oiled machine. There’s a lot of work ahead of this team as we progress and try to find our identity offensively. We just weren’t as synchronized as we need to be.”

 

On a night when the offense wasn’t hitting on all cylinders, the Wolverines looked for another threat to go alongside last year’s All-American Isiah Williams (15 pts) and this season’s two-time conference player of the week Geddes Robinson (12 pts, 11 reb).

 

That third option would come from an unlikely source Monday night in sophomore Keawe Enos off the bench. Enos converted 3-of-5 from beyond the arc as well as shooting a perfect two for two from the charity stripe for a total of 11 points to go along with an assist and a rebound.

 

“The last couple of games the bench has been non-existent,” Enos said. “The starters were carrying the load and coach was talking a lot about bench production. So we took it upon ourselves to produce more and carry our own weight. We just tried to go out with energy because there will be nights that the ball just isn’t dropping for some reason.”

 

If money spends the same way no matter how you earned it then this game counts just the same in the win column as a 20-point, perfectly executed blowout would. As the Wolverines near a third of the way through the schedule, they are working at turning their ugly-duckling wins into swans.

 

Coach Hunsaker’s boys will face a stiff challenge on the road Wednesday against the Wyoming Cowboys in Laramie before playing host to Haskell at the UCCU Center this Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:05 p.m.

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