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Notes & Quotes: UConn tops Seton Hall
It wasn't easy but the Huskies were in control most of the way in an important home win.
STORRS, CONN. - Against a very pesky team that had beaten them already this season, the UConn Huskies prevailed at home against Seton Hall.
Jordan Hawkins scored 20 points to lead the Huskies to a 64-55 victory in a classic Big East grinder in front of a sold-out crowd Saturday in Gampel Pavilion. Andre Jackson had a career-high 15 points, along with 10 rebounds, for his first double-digit output in 11 games.
After taking a 33-27 lead into the half, No. 20 UConn (20-7, 9-7 Big East) used a 16-2 run in the second half to create breathing room and held off a late push to claim its fourth victory in the last five games, and fifth in seven.
Seton Hall (16-12, 9-8) got 16 points apiece from Al-Amir Dawes and Tyrese Samuel.
What Went Well
Winning in the Paint: The three-ball was a struggle the entire game (4-for-22), so credit the Huskies for attacking the rim. Hawkins broke a scoring drought with a layup at 15:40 and the Huskies’ aggressiveness around the basket - especially Hawkins and Jackson - was huge in a 14-0 surge. UConn finished with 34 points in the paint and turned 14 offensive rebounds into 15 points. The Huskies finished with seven dunks and dominated the overall battle of the boards, 39-25.
Jordan Hawkins: “We wanted to attack the paint, that was the game plan. We knew they were undisciplined so we knew they were going to fall for shot fakes and try to get some steals.”
Doing it Ugly: The Huskies checked all the boxes for success with gritty defense (Seton Hall shot 39.6 percent), pounding the glass, and refusing to back down even when the offense struggled. The Huskies were able to do it while big man Adama Sanogo (8 points, 6 rebounds) was trying to come back from a non-COVID illness.
Hassan Diarra: “I feel like a couple games we dropped this season because we lacked toughness and today we showed our gritty in a grind-it-out game against a very tough team.”
Head Coach Dan Hurley: “I was really happy to see us win kind of a toughness game. We have lost these types of ugly, dogfight types of games. Physical, choppy types of games and I knew we had a team coming in here in that (NCAA) bubble range.
Jackson Shines: Despite plenty of social media chatter about his offensive game, Jackson had one of his best days as a Husky. The three-ball still didn't fall (0-for-4), but Jackson attacked the basket on rebounds and opportunistic drives and was all over the place making plays.
Hurley: “He was able to get to those spots on the court that you need to get to when your guy is playing you like that (soft). He also took advantage of open-court opportunities where he could get to top speed and attack the rim. … He got to all the right spots, and if they are going to play him like that, he’s going to have double-figure games.”
Andre Jackson: “At the beginning of the week I had a meeting with the coaches about different ways to attack the way they have been guarding me. I tried to stick to that, find the spots on the court they told me to get to and it turned out to be one of my better scoring performances of my career. I’m going to keep sticking to the script.”
The Standings: The Huskies now hold a half-game lead for fifth place in the conference with four games to go and prevented the Pirates from having the tie-breaker. A top-four spot remains possible, but the Huskies will need some serious help.
What Needs Work
No Offensive Rhythm: The Huskies were a Jekyll and Hyde offensive unit, with the ugliness surfacing in the final 4:39 of the first half after taking a 32-21 lead. UConn closed the half 1 of 11 from the field, including eight straight misses to finish. The drought carried into the second half, lasting a total of 8:59 before Hawkins hit a layup.
Hawkins: “The shot wasn’t falling today, so I had to attack the rim and find different ways to score.”
Late Execution: At multiple points, UConn seemed to be on the cusp of breaking this one wide open. At other times, the Huskies were close to relinquishing their lead. Seton Hall cut it down to two in the middle of the second half. And after building their advantage up to 16, the Huskies lost their composure and found themselves up six without the ball. Sanogo’s block came with 40 seconds left and allowed the UConn fans at Gampel to breathe easy.
Diarra might not stuff a stat sheet, but his toughness was huge for UConn off the bench. He scored four points with four assists and no turnovers, blocked a shot, and added a steal in almost 25 minutes. His veteran leadership was huge, too.
Hurley: “His adjustment this year hasn’t been as quick as he’s wanted, but I just feel like he’s the perfect type of guard for this league toughness-wise, competitive spirit, and just in the fight. … He’s a disruptor.”
Win Probability Chart
The Dunk Reel
UConn had a great day above the rim. Seven dunks!
And here’s Adama Sanogo’s game-sealing block
UConn leads the all-time series 48-22. Seton Hall won the first meeting of this season, 67-66 on Jan. 18… Hurley and associate head coach Kimani Young missed that game with COVID. … Creighton (twice), UConn, and Marquette are the only Big East teams to beat ranked non-conference opponents this season. The Huskies’ victory came against current No. 1 Alabama. … Former Huskies Christian Vitale, Tyrese Martin, and R.J. Cole attended the game. … The Huskies came in ranked fifth in the latest KenPom ratings. Seton Hall was ranked 61st. … Sanogo and Joey Calcaterra were both honored in the pregame for scoring their 1,000th career points earlier this season. … Calcaterra, who did not play, has gone 13 games without scoring in double figures. He achieved it six times in the first 13 games.
If the Huskies’ position in the Big East standings holds, they’ll play in the 2:30 p.m. game on Thursday at Madison Square Garden in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinals.
Wednesday vs. Providence, 6:30 p.m. (FS1)