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    Thursday, February 29, 2024

    UConn notes: Sanogo’s numbers rank up there with past greats in postseason record book

    UConn’s Adama Sanogo defends Arkansas' Jalen Graham (11) during Thursday night’s NCAA West Region Sweet 16 game in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
    UConn's Adama Sanogo (21) drives to the basket while defended by Arkansas' Nick Smith Jr., middle, in the first half of Thursday’s Sweet 16 game in the West Regional in Las Vegas. The Huskies rolled to an 88-65 win. (AP Photo/John Locher)

    Las Vegas – Shabazz Napier, Kemba Walker, Caron Butler, Emeka Okafor, Ray Allen and Richard Hamilton are just some Huskies who delivered memorable performances on the NCAA tournament stage in the program’s rich history.

    Add junior Adama Sanogo to the list.

    Sanogo, a 6-foot-9 forward, is having a memorable NCAA tournament while helping fourth-seeded UConn reach the West Region Elite Eight for the first time in nine years.

    After contributing 18 points and eight rebounds in an 88-65 win over No. 8 Arkansas Thursday in Sweet 16 action at T-Mobile Arena, Sanogo is averaging 23.3 points and 9.7 rebounds in three postseason games. He’s converted a crazy good 33 of 44 field goal attempts, or 75 percent.

    His numbers rank right up there in the school record books.

    UConn’s all-time leader in points per game average (minimum of three games) in NCAA tourney play is Butler (26.5 in four games), followed by Hamilton (24.2 in six games) and Ray Allen (24.0 in four games). Allen also in fourth at 23.7 (three games) and Walker fifth at 23.5 (six games).

    Toby Kimball (14.7 in three games), Okafor (13.3 in three games and 11.3 in six games), Hasheem Thabeet (10.2 in five games) and Alex Oriakhi (9.8 in six games) are the top rebounders.

    Sanogo is just happy to be contributing to UConn’s success.

    “It feels great, because this is something that we worked for all year,” Sanogo said in the locker room after Thursday’s win. “We worked all summer. For us to be in the Elite 8, it feels great.”

    Sanogo already has made quite the impression, not only in the last three games but the entire season.

    “Great family background,” said coach Dan Hurley on Wednesday. “Comes from great pedigree. And he works so hard at everything that he does. I think innately he just feels like he’s got a lot of confidence because he knows he’s putting in tremendous work.

    “And he’s had a heck of a career.”

    Sanogo has played in more NCAA tourney games than anyone on the UConn roster with the exception of Andre Jackson and Nahiem Alleyne, who also appeared in their fifth postseason game on Thursday.

    A more powerful Big East

    The Big East has undergone some seismic coaching changes this week.

    Ed Cooley left Providence for Georgetown, stunning and infuriating off some Friar fans. The Friars filled their vacancy on Thursday, announcing the hiring of Kim English from George Mason.

    And, after losing to UConn in the NCAA tourney first round, Hall of Famer Rick Pitino left Iona and took the job at St. John’s.

    Hurley talked about what the changes mean to the Big East prior to the hiring of English.

    “For me it means I get a bunch of months rest before I gotta deal with the new and even more powerful conference,” Hurley said. “You love the hires. You know what Rick’s going to do at St John’s. You know what Ed is going to do at Georgetown.

    “... It’s great for the league. I want the league to be as powerful as the league could be, as many as quad one games as you can get across the board. As exciting as the league is, a great St. John’s and a great Georgetown is great for all of us.”

    The Big East is enjoying a terrific postseason with UConn, Xavier and Creighton reaching the Sweet 16.

    Hotel trouble

    UConn ran into an issue with its team hotel after arriving in Las Vegas on Tuesday and switched to another location.

    Some rooms were left a mess by previous guests who clearly enjoyed themselves, forcing the Huskies to make the change.

    Just a slight bump in the road for the Huskies.

    News and notes

    West is the Best: UConn has reached the Final Four four times in eight placements in the West Region, winning the national title in 1999, 2004, 2011 and losing in the national semifinals in 2009. … Thursday’s game was as close to a homecoming game as graduate guard Joey Calcaterra, who’s from Novato, Calif., will get this season. He’s soaking in every bit of his March Madness experience. “This is the reason why I came to UConn. Playing a tournament like this and obviously making the Sweet 16, it’s been a blessing for me, nothing but fun out there.” … Three players — Walker, Ben Gordon and Ray Allen — shared the program record for most points in an NCAA tourney game with 36. … Prior to Thursday, UConn had a 41-11 record in the last 16 NCAA appearances. And the Huskies had won every game against a non-conference opponent this season by double digits.

    g.keefe@theday.com

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