UConn men’s basketball rode a blazing hot first half to victory on Senior Night against Georgetown, 98-82, at Gampel Pavilion Saturday afternoon.
All week, UConn head coach Dan Hurley told his team all week to finish, and the Huskies (14-6, 11-6 Big East) did just that. They suffocated Georgetown’s offense in the first half and took incredibly efficient shots all game. The ball movement was some of the best the program has featured yet this season and they seemingly could score at will, with six double-digit scorers on the afternoon.
“It was important to win the game and finish the irregular season,” Hurley said post-game.
UConn’s guards drove the Huskies to the win, with some nifty passing from R.J. Cole and Andre Jackson and confident shooting from James Bouknight and Jalen Gaffney. Cole and Jackson didn’t get on the score sheet too often but combined for 11 assists in the smooth-flowing UConn offense.
Bouknight (21 points) and Gaffney (15) more than made up for their lack of scoring. Each made the most of their scoring opportunities as Gaffney finished the day perfect from the floor, shooting 6-6 and 3-3 from deep. Bouknight led the team in scoring and Tyrese Martin chipped in a quiet 11 as well.
“I think we were just playing with confidence, everybody can score on this team,” Gaffney said.
The seniors got their moment in the spotlight Saturday as Whaley and Polley each put up 11 and Carlton put up seven points and seven boards in the win.
The frontcourt suffered from some foul trouble but helped UConn outrebound the best rebounding team in the conference, 35-24. Freshman Adama Sanogo finished with a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds — the first of his collegiate career.
In its last game of the regular season, UConn put up its second-most first-half points (51) since the first game when it put up 54 against CCSU. It was utter domination from the Huskies, shooting 56.6% from the field and 43.8% from deep.
The defense was simply stifling the Hoyas, limiting them to just 24 points on 30% from the floor and 0% from deep. Georgetown earned half its points in the first half from the line, though, shooting 12-15 from the stripe.
They stepped off the gas pedal a bit in the second half and Georgetown started hitting its shots at a greater clip — 55.3% from the field and 61.5% from deep. The shots kept falling for UConn (61.5%) but the defense took a step back. The Huskies’ lead was more than enough, though, as they cruised to the win, 98-82.
The main question mark heading into each game this season has been the offense — will it show up or will UConn struggle to get 60? UConn answered that question heading into the playoffs and the Huskies did it in style, with sharp ball movement and clean shooting. They started the game up 15-4 after a whirlwind of buckets and defensive stops in the first four minutes and even after that, UConn controlled the pace and lead throughout.
This team played like a potential Big East Tournament winner. The Huskies could make a deep run in March if they keep playing like they did Saturday.
“We’re a special team, we could actually make something happen this year,” Bouknight said.
Saturday was also Dan Hurley’s 200th career win as a head coach.
UConn’s next game will be Thursday in the Big East Tournament against the six-seed in the conference at Madison Square Garden, which is yet to be determined. It will be televised at 9 p.m. on FS1.