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UConn men’s basketball falls to Creighton in Big East Tournament semifinals, 59-56

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The Huskies played a close game throughout but didn’t have enough at the end to seal the deal.

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

UConn came up just short in the Big East Tournament semifinals, losing to Creighton 59-56 in a game that was back-and-forth most of the way.

The Huskies had multiple chances on their final possession. James Bouknight’s first 3-point attempt missed. After an offensive rebound, he attempted a lay-in after driving that also rimmed out, and another offensive rebound got out to Tyler Polley, who was wide open for a 3-point attempt that didn’t fall, allowing the Bluejays to seal the victory.

Early on, it looked like UConn might pull away for another comfortable win after destroying DePaul Thursday night. They were up double digits within six minutes of tip-off and appeared ready to slide into the finals. But Creighton had other plans, mounting a 7-0 run to get back in the game and taking a four-point lead into the halftime break.

With Bouknight not at 100% due to cramps, it seemed like the Huskies offense went as Adama Sanogo did. He scored eight quick points as UConn built a lead before getting his second foul with 8:47 left. As the freshman big sat on the bench the rest of the first half, Creighton outscored UConn 17-9.

Bouknight only had five points in the first half and finished with 14 on a 4-14 shooting performance, 0-3 from three. His shot selection left something to be desired.

In the first half, Tyrese Martin and Tyler Polley were scoreless and RJ Cole only had two points. Cole was doing better in the second half but left the game with an injury after hitting his head on the court and was escorted to the locker room after drawing some blood.

In the second half, Sanogo picked up right where he left off. UConn ran the offense through him and reclaimed the lead while Isaiah Whaley also got going offensively. Both of the Huskies’ bigs finished with 13 points each. Whaley grabbed seven boards and Sanogo had five.

Polley caught steam in the latter part of the half — the senior finished with five points — but UConn ultimately needed more from the group that included him, Cole, and Martin, who finished with just two points after logging a double-double in the quarterfinal win over DePaul.

Creighton slightly out-shot UConn, 37%-32%, but dominated on the glass, with 50 rebounds to the Huskies’ 33. UConn was particularly cold from behind the arc, going 3-14 from deep. Otherwise, it was a pretty even game.

Creighton goes on to face 8-seed Georgetown, who upset No. 4 Seton Hall to make the Big East Tournament Championship. If Georgetown wins, it would pull ahead of UConn in the all-time leaderboard of Big East Tournament championships. The two schools are currently tied at seven.

UConn now awaits its NCAA Tournament fate, which will be revealed on Selection Sunday, March 14 at 6 p.m. on CBS.