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Notes & Quotes: UConn conquers Providence
Despite a late PC surge, the Huskies held on for the win.
UConn showed the nation why it’s a force to be reckoned with, as Jordan Hawkins scored 19 to lead the Huskies over Providence Thursday afternoon in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden.
UConn has won six straight and nine of 10. After the game, PC head coach Ed Cooley called the Huskies “the best team in America right now.”
Dan Hurley’s squad was in control from the start, taking a 35-19 advantage into the half and building the lead up to 26 in the second half. The Friars’ 19 first-half points were their fewest all season.
Providence made a late push, but the Huskies overcame their 18 turnovers and executed well at the end to secure the win.
Tristen Newton added 16 points while Adama Sanogo scored 10. Bryce Hopkins had a quiet first half but led Providence (21-11) with 16 points.
PC twice cut the Huskies’ lead down to five in the final four minutes, but each time UConn responded with a big 3-pointer.
“If you stop playing for a little bit or get a bit sloppy…that will be an issue that could prevent this team from really achieving great things,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “The 21 assists were great, but 18 turnovers really allowed them back in the game.”
What Went Well
Setting the Tone: UConn came out with its foot on the gas - Andre Jackson dropped a 3-pointer to open the scoring and was assertive early on. The Huskies never trailed as they held Providence to 29.6 percent shooting from the field in the first half.
Providence head coach Ed Cooley: “For 30 we were digging the sleepers out of our eyes.”
Dan Hurley: “They played physical defensively, but I mean, we played unbelievable for 28 minutes.”
Jordan Hawkins: “You have to stay composed in situations like that. You’re playing for a championship.”
Netwon Responds: Hurley started Hassan Diarra instead of Tristen Newton, with disciplinary measures believed to be the case. In response, Newton played hard at both ends, finishing with a team-high seven assists and sinking four 3-pointers.
Hurley: “Whether you are playing for the Big East Tournament or a regular-season game, you’ve got to have some principles and try to teach some larger issues. Usually, when players are put in that situation they have a bad game. … I was just blown away by his mental toughness and being able to put that behind him and perform at a high level.”
Sanogo’s Leadership: Adama Sanogo was tremendous. In this game, he tangled with Ed Croswell inside and won that battle, going 5-for-5 from the field with 10 points to Croswell’s six while outrebounding him, 5-4.
Dan Hurley: “It had to be a workman-like performance from him today because Croswell is one of the best low post defenders in the country. So we needed defense from Adama. We needed him to get on the offensive glass. We needed him rolling in the ball-screen game and creating open threes for his teammates.”
What Needs Work
Hold on Late: The Huskies held a large late lead and did not need to be sweating late as much as they were. They could have put this game away with a bit more comfort.
Andre Jackson: “In these moments you have to leave it all on the line or else you go home.”
Win Probability Chart
According to the advanced metrics, UConn absolutely dominated.
UConn leads the all-time series with PC 47-31. The school had only previously met four times in the Big East Tournament, with each school winning twice. UConn won the most recent meeting, 64-55, in the 1998 conference quarterfinals. … The Huskies split with Marquette during the regular season, losing on the road 82-76 on Jan. 11. UConn won the rematch 87-72 on Feb. 7 at the XL Center. … Packers’ running back Aaron Jones was at Thursday’s game - his cousin is Newton - along with actor Bill Murray, father of assistant coach Luke Murray. … UConn has lost in the semis the last two years, falling to Creighton and Villanova.
Friday night, the Huskies face Marquette in the Big East Semifinals at MSG, 6:30 (FS1)