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UConn men's hoops is No. 1 in the country (in KenPom)
The Huskies are ranked first in overall efficiency, awaiting results from the AP and Coaches' Polls, after a dominant run through non-conference play.
The UConn men’s basketball team enters a week-long break with an undefeated record, and lots to be excited about.
Donovan Clingan had a career-high 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead No. 5 UConn over Long Island University 114-61 on Saturday. While many expected he’d need some time to develop coming out of Bristol Central High, the freshman is averaging over 10 points per game already. Alex Karaban, another freshman, added a career-high 19 points.
The victory closed out the non-conference portion of the schedule for the 11-0 Huskies. It’s only the sixth time since the program joined the original Big East in 1979 that a Husky squad has made it to this point without a loss.
The victory, coupled with a Houston loss also vaulted the Huskies to the top of the KenPom ratings.
“It’s hard to do historical things in a place with all this history, right,” head coach Dan Hurley said. “To be the sixth team in program history who has been able to get through the conference undefeated is a great accomplishment for this group.”
The Huskies were firing on all cylinders as they dismantled the Sharks (1-8) for the second straight season. UConn won last year’s meeting 93-40.
“They are the number five team in the country and they showed why they were that,” LIU head coach Rod Strickland said. “They were just efficient on both ends of the court.”
Sophomore Jordan Hawkins had a team-high 22 points and was 6 of 9 on 3-pointers. Adama Sanogo added 16 points and Naheim Alleyne had 11.
“We have to come into every game with the mindset that the other team is trying to win, too,” said Clingan, who shot 10-for-10 from the field. “It’s important to get every win and this one was important as the last non-conference game.”
Notes & Quotes
Hurley credits the leadership of Sanogo and junior Andre Jackson for the Huskies’ success. Jackson certainly set the tone in the first half against LIU. He swiped a pass from R.J. Green around midcourt, lost the freshman guard on a spin move, then went behind his back to shed him again before his electrifying slam dunk.
Dan Hurley: “Those two men - their daily approach, their work ethic…they set a tone in practice because neither guy ever wants to be subbed out. Each guy is an absolutely ruthless competitor and that runs through your team. Your two best players along with Jordan are putting so much pressure for everyone to show up each day otherwise they will destroy them.”
Every one of the Huskies’ rotation players scored, as the team shot 62.5 percent from the field. UConn collected a season-best 29 assists on 45 field goals, with Jackson and Tristen Jackson each having seven dishes.
Hurley: “We didn’t necessarily ‘out-talent’ them but we were in the right spots, the ball was moving. We looked sharp.”
After winning 11 straight games by a double-digit margin, it could be easy for the Huskies to get complacent. With a strong Butler team up next to open Big East play, the Huskies can’t bask in their accomplishments for long. Nor do they want to at this point in the season.
Hurley: “Obviously every game in conference play is so difficult because you know each other so well and it’s one of twenty. It’s a grind. We know our string of double-digit coasting to victories is about to turn into much different types of games. We’re mentally preparing for it.”
The last time the Huskies scored 100 points in regulation was when they opened the 2020 season with a 102-75 win over Central Connecticut State. … It's the most points UConn has scored since beating Morehead State 129-61 on Dec. 23, 2005. … UConn’s last undefeated non-conference season came in 2010-11 (12-0). … The Huskies are off to their best overall start since opening 11-0 in 2008-09, which ties them for fourth all-time. The best start was 19-0 in 1998-99. … Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones attended the game. … Former Husky Rod Sellers was also in attendance. … Sophomore Samson Johnson (foot) remains out of action. … The Huskies are off until Saturday for exam week.
UP NEXT: Saturday, at Butler, 7 p.m. (FS1)