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No. 23 UConn men’s basketball obliterates LIU, 93-40

After a slow start, UConn turned the game into a dunk fest and put away LIU

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Two days after moving up one spot in the national rankings, No. 23 UConn put together another blowout win over an inferior opponent, this time dispatching the LIU Sharks 93-40. According to Vegas books and KenPom, the Huskies were 24 point favorites at tip-off, and UConn (3-0) seemed to take offense to that.

Andre Jackson was the best player on the floor for much of the contest, showing off all facets of his versatile game with electric dunks, monster blocks, and hard-fought boards. He finished with a complete line of 14 points, five rebounds, two steals, and three blocks Jackson shot 5-7 from the floor and also hit two three pointers, both in the first half, which was a welcome sight for the UConn faithful, as Jackson had gone 2-18 from downtown in his career coming into tonight.

Jackson wasn’t the only star tonight, as UConn’s balanced attack featured four other players all hit double digits: Adama Sanogo (11 points), Tyrese Martin (10), Tyler Polley (17), and Jalen Gaffney (11).

Early on in the game, LIU was playing the Huskies extremely tough. UConn started 3-12 from the floor and struggled to get quality shots versus the stingy Sharks defense.

Offensively, LIU senior forward Isaac Kante, who stands at 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, was giving Sanogo a little taste of his own medicine. Kante established himself in the paint early, going right into the Huskies’ big man early and often, scoring 12 of LIU’s first 18 points. It didn’t really matter who was guarding Kante in that first half though, as he was able to get buckets on every member of the UConn frontcourt, seemingly having whatever he wanted down low and went into the break with 16 points. Only two other players on LIU had scored points at halftime, Earl Penn and Jake Cook, who both had three.

UConn only led by two points 14 minutes into the game, then kicked it into gear, scoring nine straight, five of which came from Jalen Gaffney and the other four courtesy of Martin and Jackson. After this run, UConn never looked back and pulled ahead enough to lead 38-22 at the half.

While Kante was having his way down low in the first half to the tune of 16 points, UConn did a wonderful job of using their length and weak side defense to frustrate him in the second, as he only scored one point after the intermission.

The Huskies were also very active in passing lanes and gritty with their on-ball defense, completely rattling the Sharks most of the game and forcing 26 turnovers. This led to a constant flurry of fast break dunks, highlighted by this vicious dunk from Jackson, AKA the human pogo stick.

Highly-touted freshman Jordan Hawkins also saw his first minutes of the season after sitting out the first two games with an ankle injury. He looked very comfortable in his first action, and made a great read for a steal and delivered a perfect outlet pass to Jackson for the strong and-1 dunk.

The Huskies shot 45.2% from the floor, but only hit 31% of their 3-point attempts (8-26). On the glass, UConn dominated as expected, with 16 offensive boards and a +18 rebounding margin that led to a bevy of second chance points.

The scoring margin in the second half just seemed to swell like a balloon, peaking at 53 with four minutes left in the game, matching the difference at the final buzzer. The victory marks the first time the Huskies have had two victories of 50 points or more in a season since 2006.

UConn returns to action at the XL center against Binghamton Saturday, Nov. 20, at noon. FS1 will broadcast the game.