Discover more from The UConn Fast Break
Notes & Quotes: UConn tops Oklahoma State
The Huskies are looking like a national title contender, according to their most recent opponent.
STORRS, Conn. - The Dan Hurley Express keeps on chugging.
Jordan Hawkins scored a career-high 26 points and No. 8 UConn survived a second-half run from Oklahoma State in a 74-64 victory Thursday in the Big 12/Big East Challenge.
Hawkins poured in 18 first-half points and the Huskies led most of the way in their first game back at Gampel Pavilion after winning the Phil Knight Invitational. Adama Sanogo added 20 points and Andre Jackson had 11 for the 9-0 Huskies.
“This was a big win for us,” Sanogo said. “They thought they had a chance to win the game tonight - they did not.”
The 10-point margin of victory made this the Huskies’ closest game of the season.
“I don’t know if eight is high enough for this team, I mean their ranking,” OSU coach Mike Boynton, Jr. said. “From my view, for whatever it’s worth, (UConn) is capable of winning a national championship.”
Kalib Boone scored 15 points to lead the Cowboys (5-3), which fell in front of a sold-out Gampel Pavilion crowd.
“They have done a tremendous job here and had an electric atmosphere,” Boynton Jr. said.
Here’s a closer look at Thursday’s win:
SCORING SPREE: OSU took a 28-25 lead with 7:27 remaining and then got wiped out of the building the rest of the half. UConn responded with a 15-0 run, including eight points from the foul line, over the next 4:27 and outscored OSU 23-3 to go into the locker room up 17.
Dan Hurley: “The end result was kind of what we expected, having to close the game out against a very good team. Thrilled with the way we had the last half of the first half. Obviously, our spurtability was on display with the shooting.”
HOT SHOT: One of those awesome shooting displays came from Hawkins, who hit 5 of 9 3-pointers. The sophomore has struggled with concussion problems early in his career, but when he’s on, few others look as smooth doing it. Hawkins scored 13 of UConn’s 23 points to close the first half and did it from all over the floor.
Jordan Hawkins: “I just caught fire early and my teammates did a great job getting me the ball. Everything felt like it was going in.”
EVERY NIGHT ANOTHER HERO: The Huskies have the Big East preseason Player of the Year in Sanogo and a heralded freshman in Donovan Clingan, but you never know who might go off for this squad. After a quiet night against Iowa State, it was Hawkins’ turn, and everyone was happy for him.
Andre Jackson: “I would just credit everybody being able to sacrifice, that’s the biggest thing. When you have so many high-level players from so many schools coming in, you have to sacrifice, everybody has to sacrifice because if it’s not, then the team chemistry isn’t where it needs to be. I just give credit to everybody who came in and just bought into coach Hurley’s system.
RUNNING ON FUMES: The trip to Oregon came with a price - the Huskies are a bit winded after playing so many early-season games. It showed in the second half against the Cowboys, who outscored them 33-26 and outworked them on the glass 26-15. OSU finished with a 39-35 rebound edge.
Hurley: “ It doesn’t sit well with us. We lost the rebounding battle - we were brutal on the defensive glass in the second half.
UConn scored 27 points off 17 OSU turnovers. The Huskies picked up 17 of those points in the first half. The Cowboys had just eight points on seven Husky mistakes.
Jackson made his season debut in the starting lineup, replacing Naheim Alleyne. … UConn is off to its best start since the 2013-14 season when it also began 9-0. The program’s best start was 19-0 by the 1998-99 team, which went on to win the first of four national championships at the school. The Huskies started 10-0 in 2010-11 and 11-0 in 2008-09. … UConn is off for the next six days. … Former Huskies Caron Butler and Hasheem Thabeet were in attendance for the game, along with former head coach Jim Calhoun.
UP NEXT: At Florida, Wednesday, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)