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Hurley: Jackson available for Seton Hall, looking to add a ‘marquee game’ to the schedule

UConn men’s basketball head coach Dan Hurley offered an injury update and thoughts on the schedule.

NCAA Basketball: Central CT State at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time as a member of the Big East, UConn men’s basketball will face head coach Dan Hurley’s alma mater, Seton Hall.

Hurley told reporters that he’s not thinking of it quite in that way. considering all of the outside things he has to worry about with COVID-19, in a Zoom press conference Friday.

“This year, just because of Covid and the state of our world and how brutal everything’s been... I don’t think this is a time necessarily that it’ll creep into my mind,” Hurley said. “This year, it’s just an important game.”

The Pirates (12-7, 7-5 Big East) are one of the top teams in the Big East and have one of the conference’s best players, Sandro Mamukelashvili. Hurley offered a few program updates ahead of the Saturday afternoon matchup at Gampel Pavilion.

Andre Jackson

UConn’s prized 2020 recruit Andre Jackson will be available for the first time since he broke a bone in his left wrist in December.

Hurley said he was comfortable playing the freshman and added that Jackson has had about five practices worth of 5-on-5 action under his belt heading into Saturday.

The head coach said he’s hoping to deploy Jackson in three- or four-minute spurts to help him get some experience.

Jackson has played just 33 total minutes this season, with a majority coming in the season opener against CCSU. He struggled in his limited time on the court before the injury, averaging just one point and 1.5 rebounds per game so far this year.

Hurley views him as one of the three pillars of the development of the program in his third year in Storrs, alongside James Bouknight and Akok Akok – who are both out with injuries right now as well.

Adding a game to the schedule

Since UConn’s last two games against Villanova and St. John’s were postponed after an official from the Huskies game against Butler tested positive, UConn has not played since Jan. 26.

Coming into the month of January, UConn was looking down the barrel of nine games in 26 days. Just six of those games came to fruition. The Huskies have postponed or canceled 10 total games this season and played just 11.

“There’s been some conversation about adding one, adding a marquee game back,” Hurley said. “Right now, we’re talking to the league about that possibility.”

There are currently 10 Big East games left this season, and UConn has yet to play Villanova, Xavier, Georgetown or Providence – or Seton Hall, but that will be rectified Saturday.

Seven of the team’s final 10 contests will be in February and the longest they have between any of their games this month is three days. It will be tough squeezing in another game with such little rest.

The shortest amount of rest they’ve had between games came back in November, with just one day off between the CCSU and Hartford games. However, there was no travel between those two and they were both held at Gampel Pavilion.

Other injury updates

Hurley said that both Bouknight and Akok are limited in practice right now and did not offer any updates for their timetable to return to action.

He said they are both “progressing,” but he is unsure when they will be back.

Hurley also added that three players on the roster and one tier-one staff member have tested positive for Covid-19 throughout the season.