The UConn Huskies were without Adama Sanogo and Tyrese Martin, two starters expected to be out for multiple games, but it wasn’t a problem against Grambling State as Dan Hurley’s squad prevailed, 88-59.
Jordan Hawkins got off to a quick start with two threes and eight points in the first four minutes of the game. Akok Akok had not been playing or scoring much lately but was named a starter Saturday and asserted himself early, flushing down an authoritative dunk to rile up the crowd at Gampel Pavilion. He finished with 10 points, six boards, and four blocks.
Andre Jackson also threw one down to give the Huskies an 11-point lead in just over five minutes.
RJ Cole scored the Huskies’ first points and was aggressive throughout on both sides of the ball. Isaiah Whaley was his usual self, scoring opportunistic buckets, tracking down rebounds, and blocking shots.
Hawkins, Cole, and Whaley each had 10 points at the break and the Huskies led by 17 at halftime. Cole continued to shine in the second half as he finished with a team-high 18 points and seven assists. Whaley finished with 12 points and eight rebounds while Hawkins totaled 15 points in 21 minutes.
UConn’s younger players also got to see some early action, as Rahsoon Diggins checked in in the first half and Samson Johnson played 17 minutes, including eight in the first half, finishing with five points and four rebounds.
It was not a great shooting night for the Huskies, who were 40 percent from the field, 35 percent from three, and 69 percent from the free-throw line (not nice). But UConn beat the Vegas and KenPom spreads and was playing deep backups by the end. Once again the Huskies take care of business. They advance to 8-1 with a big road game coming.
Next up, the Huskies will be in Morgantown, West Virginia, where they’ll take on Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers. The game is part of the Big East-Big 12 Challenge and also renews a rivalry that saw plenty of great games in the old Big East.
Tip-off will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 8 and will be televised on ESPN2.