UConn men’s basketball found its shooting touch as it drained 10 3-point attempts in a 72-60 win over Butler at the Hinkle Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon.
The Huskies (6-1, 3-1 Big East) won their third straight Big East game despite the absence of star James Bouknight, who missed the game after hyperextending his left elbow in the Huskies’ win over Marquette. UConn got contributions from everyone, including some exquisite 3-point shooting from Tyler Polley and Tyrese Martin.
“James [Bouknight] is one of the best players in the country,” head coach Dan Hurley said following the win. “His loss is only going to be filled while he’s out with the strength of who we are... we’ve got depth.”
Polley brought his hot shooting from the second half of the Marquette win to Indianapolis as he drained five threes on the night and finished with 19 points on 5-9 shooting. Hurley said that he has the “ultimate green light” to shoot as long as he can get a good look.
After a scoreless game against Marquette, Martin chipped in 13 points and remained a dominant force on the glass once again with seven boards.
Senior Isaiah Whaley was an absolute stop sign in front of the rim, blocking three shots and grabbing a pair of steals. He put up a respectable six points on 3-6 shooting as well. RJ Cole still struggled to find his shooting touch (3-9, 0-2 from three) but grabbed seven boards and dished a pair of assists in the win.
UConn’s Akok Akok returned from a long absence and scored two points on a monster dunk in the first half. He saw limited minutes after a 10-month layoff due to a ruptured Achilles and strained hamstring.
“It was a great moment in my career,” Akok said. “It was a special day I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
Polley was unconscious from three in the first half, hitting all four of his attempts from deep, and giving him nine straight three-pointers made since the second half of Marquette.
UConn finished the first half with a 33-28 lead, but struggled with ball security and allowed 13 points off 10 turnovers in the first half. The Huskies fixed their turnover issue in the second half, giving away just two more the rest of the game. Aside from a mid-half seven-point run from Butler, UConn remained in the driver’s seat in the final half with strong defense and enough offense to maintain the lead thanks to multiple players stepping up.
The game was never in doubt as UConn was simply better on both sides of the ball — they finished the night shooting 43.1% on field goals and 47.6% from 3-point land. Butler, on the other hand, shot just 33.3% from deep on 15 attempts, and sharpshooters Jair Bolden and Chuck Harris went just 3-7 from three.
Without Bouknight, UConn strung together 40 solid minutes on the road to take down a tough conference opponent. While Butler isn’t a conference title contender this year, it’s still impressive to see the rest of the Huskies handle their business without their best scorer and star player. Polley and Martin set the table and everyone else followed, as UConn finished with six different players with five or more points.
UConn may be ranked for its next game, Monday night against DePaul, at 6 p.m. on FS1 in Chicago at the Wintrust Arena.