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No. 23 UConn men’s basketball falls to No. 11 Creighton, 74-66

The Huskies offense couldn’t get going as they lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Even after showing some life towards the end of the first half, the shots didn’t fall for UConn as the Huskies dropped their second game of the season to No. 11 Creighton, 72-62, at the CHI Health Center Arena in Omaha, Nebraska.

Before the game, Hurley said he was looking for more toughness from UConn (7-3, 4-3 Big East), and the Huskies brought it for the most part. They rebounded like crazy — especially on the offensive end — but their offense wasn’t fluid enough without star James Bouknight to get past a top-ranked Creighton team on the road.

“We had no chance of winning a game that got outside the 60’s today,” head coach Dan Hurley said postgame.

Freshman center Adama Sanogo had one of his most promising games yet this season, with a career-high 13 points. He played a bit sloppy, though, with five turnovers and five fouls. He was the Huskies best big man once again, but didn’t play in the final two minutes after fouling out.

RJ Cole was one of the bright spots for Hurley Saturday, with a team-best 14 points, five assists and four boards. He was one of the most efficient Huskies on the night, shooting 4-10 from the field and 6-7 from the line.

Isaiah Whaley and Brendan Adams led the rebounding attack with nine each, which is a career-high for Adams. Whaley also had a three-block sequence late in the second half that once again displayed his defensive prowess.

Otherwise, there were some difficult performances for UConn. Junior Tyrese Martin fouled out with 11 points but had a -19 plus-minus in the loss. Tyler Polley didn’t score on just four total field goal attempts all game, all from 3-point range.

As for the game itself, the start wasn’t much better than the Huskies’ individual performances. Neither team hit the 10 point mark until 8:17 into the half, and UConn had just 13 points with seven minutes left. But the Huskies more than doubled that in the final four minutes of the half, ripping off an eight-point run to trail just 29-28 at the half.

No one was hitting their shots for much of the first half, as UConn was an abysmal 10-34 from the floor and 2-11 from three. They cleaned the glass with ease, with 26 first-half boards and 11 offensive rebounds, but it resulted in just six second-chance points. They finished the afternoon game with 18 offensive boards, the second-most all season behind a 19-board effort in the season opener against CCSU.

The second half was a roller coaster, but more like one at a local pop-up carnival than one at Six Flags. The Huskies got their first lead quickly to start off the half but never took off from there. The offensive kicked up a bit in the second, but not enough to make the difference they needed.

The Bluejays got 10 second-half points from both Marcus Zegarowski and Denzel Mahoney to secure the 74-66 home win. Mahoney impressed all game, finishing with game-high 20 points on 8-14 shooting — including a trio of 3-pointers.

With Bouknight out another four to six weeks, this UConn team needs someone to emerge as a scorer and fast. Cole looks like he could be it, as does Sanogo, but someone needs to take the reigns. This team was built to have one main scorer and they’re not functioning well without a go-to option.

UConn has one more game, a matchup against Butler, before they take on No. 3 Villanova for the first time this season, a potential Big East tournament matchup down the line. They need to figure it out soon.

The Huskies return to action Tuesday, Jan. 26 against Butler at Gampel Pavilion at 8:30 p.m. ET. It will be televised on FS1.