New Hampshire-UConn Preview
Connecticut's newest stars were pleasantly surprised with their first experience at Gampel Pavilion. However, the No. 19 Huskies' impressive play wasn't much of a stunner.
After missing out on the NCAA Tournament last season, coach Kevin Ollie looked to get the Huskies back to their 2014 championship form by bringing in Gibbs and Miller, and the graduate transfers made an immediate impact Friday in a 100-56 home win over Maine.
"(Our first home game) was more than we expected it to be," said Miller, a 2014-15 first-team Ivy League selection with Cornell. "The lights, the fans, everybody... It was just a great atmosphere."
Gibbs, who averaged 16.3 points at Seton Hall last season, finished with 20, while Miller had 17 points and 10 rebounds after 16.8 and 8.5 marks with the Big Red in 2014-15.
"They know how to run the team without telling everyone what to do," center Amida Brimah said.
The Huskies only led by 12 at halftime before scoring 34 of the next 38 points en route to reaching 100 points since a 106-85 home win over Coppin State on Dec. 14.
Brimah scored a career-high 40 points while hitting all 13 of his shots in that contest. The 7-footer had 18 on 7-of-8 shooting Friday to go with nine blocked shots, one off the school record shared by Hasheem Thabeet, Emeka Okafor and Donyell Marshall.
Junior guard Rodney Purvis, who was third on the team last season with 11.6 points per game, chipped in 10. Sophomore forward Daniel Hamilton, the American Athletic Conference's reigning Rookie of the Year, had seven points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
"No matter what, there is someone who can lead the game and lead the team," Gibbs said.
Connecticut shot 54.5 percent while limiting Maine to just 30.2, outscored the Black Bears 54-22 in the paint and outrebounded them 52-40.
The Huskies could find the going a bit more difficult at home against New Hampshire, which opened with an 82-45 home win over Division-III Lyndon State on Friday.
Tanner Leissner, the 2014-15 America East Conference Rookie of the Year, led the way with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Iba Camara had career highs with 15 points and 20 boards, and Jaleen Smith finished with 11 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
The Wildcats, who return four starters from last season, held a 63-31 advantage on the boards while limiting the Hornets to 21.9 percent shooting. They're looking to take the next step after moving from six wins in 2013-14 to a school record-tying 19 last season.
UConn holds a 91-25 record in the all-time series, which dates to the 1906-07 season. The Huskies haven't lost to New Hampshire since January 1983 after pulling out a 61-53 home win in the most recent meeting on Nov. 29, 2012.
They may be without senior forward Phil Nolan, who is dealing with a foot injury.