No. 25 UConn men cruise to fifth straight victory
Hartford – UConn’s demolition crew went to work again, punching in and punching out yet another overmatched foe.
The 25th-ranked Huskies raced to a 33-point halftime lead and cruised to their fifth straight win, 95-60, over Delaware State on Sunday at the XL Center while scoring a season high for points.
Three of their five wins have come by 30-plus point margins and the other two by at least 20.
Far more challenging days are dead ahead.
Over the next week, the Huskies (5-0) will face Oregon Thursday, either Michigan State or Alabama Friday and another quality team on Sunday in the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Ore.
“Schedules fall the way they fall in the non-conference,” coach Dan Hurley said. “Some things are out of your control in terms of the way you structure it. In a perfect world, maybe one of these (first five) games is a high major, but we don’t always have control over that part of our schedule.
“... I just thought you saw a team that was tired of these types of games in the second half and is ready to go attack the rest of the season. These games (stink) worse than the high major games. You want to play these next games. … These games you’re about to play now, now you’re about trying to build a great season as opposed to blowing up your season before you even build a season.”
Sunday’s game served as the final tuneup for those tests and went about as expected.
The Huskies never trailed, broke a 5-5 tie with a 13-0 run and overwhelmed the shorthanded Hornets (1-4), a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
For the third time this season, the balanced Huskies had five players score in double figures, led by the center duo of junior Adama Sanogo (26 points, eight rebounds) and freshman Donovan Clingan (career-best 16 points). Joey Calcaterra (11), Jordan Hawkins (11) and Alex Karaban (10) also contributed to the cause.
“Right now, we have a deep team,” Sanogo said. “We have a lot of guys that can play. That’s something we really need.”
The Huskies shot the ball extremely well, making 20 for 34 field goals before intermission. They finished with season bests in field goal percentage (57.4 percent) and made 3-pointers (12).
Delaware State shot 38.5 percent from the field and had 18 turnovers overall.
It was all Huskies from the start.
Starting point guard Tristen Newton, who came in shooting 30.8 percent, found his rhythm early on, sinking two 3-pointers to equal his season total.
Sanogo, who went 10 for 13 from the field, was almost impossible to stop inside. He also showed off his improved range, burying his fourth 3-pointer of the season to push the lead to 40-13. In his first two seasons, he misfired on his only 3-point attempt.
“It’s something that I worked on and something that I want to do,” said Sanogo, who’s 4 for 7 from three this season.
Calcaterra, a transfer guard, was very active, scoring from the perimeter, grabbing rebounds and setting up teammates.
The Huskies had a comfortable 57-24 lead at halftime and dealt with some foul trouble.
Hurley turned to his loaded bench when needed and the Huskies never skipped a beat. He stuck with the same starting lineup for the second straight game – Newton, Nahiem Alleyne, Hawkins, Karaban and Sanogo, bringing Jackson off the bench.
Both Jackson and Hawkins played their second game since returning to injury in Friday’s rout of NC Wilmington. Jackson fouled out in the second half and played only 13 minutes.
The Huskies are almost fully healthy, with the exception of forward Samson Johnson who’s out indefinitely with a foot injury.
“Losing that four man, athletic and long player in Samson, that’s a big piece that we’re still missing,” Hurley said. “But you can see the design of the team. I think it makes sense now. This group hasn’t played together for a long time. This is the second game that this group has played together.”
News and notes
One of the biggest ovations came when future Husky Stephon Castle, a member of UConn’s top five recruiting class, was introduced to the crowd during a second-half timeout. Castle sat behind the UConn bench. … Also noteworthy, Hurley picked up a technical foul with UConn up 40 and 3:04 left. Wishing the officials a Happy Thanksgiving, perhaps? “I had a point that I wanted to make,” Hurley said.