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Notes & Quotes: UConn MBB over UNCW
What went well and what needs work after the Huskies' fourth win in a row to start the season.
Andre Jackson and Jordan Hawkins made their returns as the UConn Huskies defeated UNC Wilmington, 86-50, for their fourth win in four tries. All four victories have been by 20 points or more.
It was an efficient night for the Huskies who were led by Adama Sanogo’s 24 points while Hawkins added 20 and freshman Alex Karaban scored 12. In his return, Jackson logged 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists in 20 minutes.
Here’s a look at the highs and lows of the Huskies’ Friday night performance in Gampel Pavilion.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
FEED THE BIG MAN: It seems the only thing that can stop Sanogo is himself. After battling foul trouble and scoring a season-low 11 points against Buffalo, the UConn center was back on his world domination tour. He scored 17 first-half points on 6 of 9 shooting - with two of the misses coming on 3-pointers. He finished 8-for-12 from the field and 8 of 8 at the foul line while grabbing five rebounds.
Dan Hurley: “He did what he was supposed to do today and he played great. Obviously, the other night he was disappointed in his performance.”
TAKING FLIGHT: A two-game layoff did nothing to cool off Hawkins, who was hot in the first half with three 3-pointers and 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting. He finished 5-for-8 on 3-pointers in 24 minutes. After missing the Big East Tournament and the NCAAs last season due to another concussion, Hawkins was thrilled to be back on the floor again.
Jordan Hawkins: “It just felt good to play basketball again. There’s been ups and downs this last year, but when I got back on the court it felt great.”
Hurley: “We saw that a lot in the closed scrimmages and the preseason. It was unfortunate getting hurt in the opener and not being able to get the fireworks going earlier. He looked sharp, he let it come to him. A little rusty with the ball, but that happens. … He looked pretty darn good.”
GAME CHANGER: Jackson took only two shots, but his impact on the floor was felt everywhere for the junior, returning from a fractured right pinky which he suffered on Oct. 12. He entered the game with 12:13 remaining in the first half and became a disruptive force at both ends with his grit and high energy. Hurley was planning to restrict his minutes to 10-12, but after only one full practice in five weeks, Jackson was revved up to roll.
Hurley: “He flipped that whole game taking two shots. Just the energy he brought and the plus-33. Sometimes the plus-minus is coincidental, but not in this instance.”
Andre Jackson: “I just tried to fill in the gaps where the team needed me. I felt like we were flat (early) and I just tried to bring as much energy as possible on the defensive end. Really, I just love to compete.”
WHAT NEEDS WORK
TAKING IT TO THE LIMIT: The Huskies have taken care of business to start the season but there’s still plenty of work to do. Now that the entire roster is almost intact, it’s time to start fine-tuning things, especially with Phil Knight’s event looming next week. Basically, the message Hurley is sending to the player is if you want to be on the court you better show up every play.
HURLEY’S TAKE: “The depth really shows now and you’ve got to bring quality to the court defensively, on the backboard. You’ve got to be the type of player offensively who can process and make reads, draw second defenders, move the ball. … You have to play well for us to stay on the court … and be a great team guy or else you are out.”
Hawkins returned to the lineup after missing two games with a concussion. He returned to the starting lineup, replacing Hassan Diarra. … Jackson made his season debut with 12:13 left in the first half. He had been out of action since mid-October with a broken right pinky. … Sophomore Samson Johnson remains out of action due to a foot injury which he suffered in practice prior to the Boston University game. There is no timetable for his return.
UP NEXT: Sunday, vs. Delaware State, 5 p.m., XL Center in Hartford (FS1).