STORRS -- You never really know why things unfold the way they do.

In our story line-driven world, DeAndre Daniels' emergence -- a career-best 26 points and eight rebounds in a shellacking of DePaul -- should be easy to pin down: Daniels sat the bench for 17 straight minutes versus Marquette, so he was extra-motivated and thus played his tail off versus the Blue Demons. A+B=C.

A nice, cozy seat on the pine + a week to think about it = a bounce-back game.

Whether that tailor-made formula fits for Daniels will always be a mystery. Sometimes talented players perform well. Sometimes they don't. Not everything can be summed up so conveniently.

Tuesday night's rout, though, is pretty easy to diagnose. From the start, Daniels "hit first," as UConn coach Kevin Ollie likes to say, and dominated in all facets: His tip-in off a Tyler Olander miss early in the first half opened up a 15-6 lead, and his box-out of DePaul forward Cleveland Melvin, a one-time UConn commit, helped the Huskies to a 20-2 advantage on the glass. Yes, that's 20-2.

And yes, we're going to celebrate a box-out: A shot went up from the left corner and you could see Daniels' eyes scan the paint, as if to say, "Where's Melvin?" As the ball bounced off back rim, Daniels located the DePaul junior, drove him backwards (as far as a 6-foot-8, 195-pounder can drive someone) and cleared the way for Shabazz Napier to collect one of his team-high eight boards.

Not the most riveting stuff to read, I know. But for UConn, the glass -- and DePaul's decision to press Napier and Ryan Boatright the entire way -- was the difference.

"First possession in the Marquette game, I didn't box out," Daniels recalled. "Coach took me right out."

UConn had a full week to let the Marquette loss linger, and Daniels, who performed just fine offensively (11 points in 17 minutes) could have sulked.

"But he took the onus on himself," Ollie said. "He didn't say, `Coach Ollie is dogging me.' He didn't blame coach (George) Blaney. He didn't blame anybody. Whether I was right or wrong (for sitting him), so be it. He went out and played today, and that's how you get over things."

That's Ollie's formula: Misfortune or mistakes + self-accountability = growth.

And what we saw Tuesday night was indeed a step forward for Daniels, awfully quiet with a sometimes-disinterested demeanor.

"I probably know DeAndre the best on the team -- we both got here on the same day freshman year," Boatright said. "Some days he's quiet and real lackadaisical, other days he's fired up and talking too much.

"It's contagious with DeAndre," Boatright continued. "Once he hits one or two baskets, he feels like he can just go off."

Early results + confidence = sustained success. Makes sense.

Daniels hit a spot-up 3-pointer to give UConn a 12-3 lead, and then followed with the tip-in. He aggressively chased an offensive rebound to start the second half and later added two baseline dunks -- both of which caused DePaul center Derrell Robertson to step aside and avoid the YouTube clip -- in a two-minute span.

Everything came easy Tuesday night. No one, not even the guys who know him best, can explain why Daniels -- with the wingspan of a center and the jumper of a shooting guard -- can put up 26 in one game and three points in 29 minutes versus Quinnipiac in another. He's tough to figure out, for sure.

"We all are, really," Napier said.

Daniels said he "put the Marquette game in the past," but also admitted that it stuck with him through the week of practice. And Ollie rode him a little, too.

"Kevin Ollie kept going at me in practice, `(Melvin) is going to do this to you, he's going to do that to you,'" Daniels said. "I was kind of fired up."

Instead, it was Daniels who did "this and that" to Melvin, outhustling him on those tip-balls and dogging him on the perimeter. At one point, Melvin needed a "screen" from Shabazz Napier, who inadvertently bumped his own teammate, to free himself from Daniels. It was as solid an all-around game as he's had at UConn.

"I don't want this to just be a moment," Ollie said. "That's the way I expect him to play."

It might have been his 17 minutes as a bystander versus Marquette that got him going. Might have been the early hoop and the subsequent confidence-boost. Might have been a combination of both. Or it might have simply been the way Daniels felt when he woke up Tuesday morning. There's no single explanation. No A+B=C.

But we can all agree on this: UConn's backcourt + Tuesday's DeAndre Daniels = a shot for UConn to be competitive in the Big East.; @KevinRDuffy