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UConn men’s basketball team outpaces Butler, 75-56

UConn sweeps the season series Butler for the second straight year

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Butler Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 25 UConn men’s basketball team capped off ‘Alfred Pennyworth Week’ with a solid road win against Butler, 75-56. The Huskies improve to 13-4 and 4-2 in the Big East for their third-straight win. They also managed to complete the series sweep of Butler for the second-straight year, this time dispatching the Bulldogs twice in roughly 72 hours.

Super senior Tyrese Martin poured in a career-high 27 points, going 10 of 13 in the second half to help UConn pull away. Sophomore Adama Sanogo added 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Andre Jackson stuffed the stat sheet with six points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Isaiah Whaley, after going scoreless against Butler 48 hours ago, responded with a double double of his own with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Huskies struggled with the Bulldogs in the first half, shooting 28.6% from the field and 18% from three. But thanks to 25 second half points from Martin, UConn was able to correct itself and avoid what would have been a Quadrant 3 loss.

It was very clear from the jump that these two teams were overly familiar with each other, with buckets hard to come by on both ends. Butler made a greater effort to front Sanogo inside, while UConn’s length continued to bother the Bulldogs on offense.

The cover on the basket clearly started to frustrate the Huskies, as missed shots were soon followed by turnovers and silly fouls. Despite nine first half points from Sanogo, the trio of Cole, Martin, and Jackson shot a combined 2-15 heading into the break. This was exactly the type of game Butler — 195th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficacy — needed to play to steal this one. Yet despite the anemic offensive display, UConn went into the half only down four. Plus, Whaley got back to his yeoman work ways, and there was a promising stretch featuring Jalen Gaffney as an off-guard.

UConn reclaimed the lead for good just three minutes into the second half thanks to a 11-0 run paced by Martin. The backcourt was finally starting to get out in transition, while Sanogo showed off some improved passing chops from the post. A Whaley putback stretched UConn’s lead to seven with 8:46 to play, and it seemed like the Huskies were in control.

Butler threw some three-quarter press to slow down the Huskies, and as Whaley and Cole found themselves in foul trouble, the Bulldogs kept hanging around. That is, until a Gaffney steal and slam followed by a pretty Martin post-up gave the Huskies their first double-digit lead. Martin closed out the game doing a little bit of everything; hitting threes, breaking the press, and hitting step-back buzzer beaters. Put another way: in the last 20 minutes, Butler just barely outlasted the University of Tyrese Martin 28 to 27.

Credit to UConn for showing serious poise after an ice-cold first half. Hurley’s team proved that even if the shots aren’t falling, the defensive identity will remain. Easy looks are hard to come by thanks to UConn’s length, physicality and toughness.

The Huskies’ depth was on full display Thursday night; they picked up a road dub with their point guard going 2-8 from the field. There are enough athletes and catalysts on this team that someone like Cole or Sanogo can have an off night and the entire thing won’t go off the rails. That’s a great sign for March.

Next up, the Huskies host Georgetown on Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 8:30 p.m. ET.