No. 5 UConn men’s basketball finished the non-conference season with 11 consecutive double-digit wins, taking a dominant home victory over the LIU Sharks by a score of 114-61 at Gampel Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
Donovan Clingan set career highs in both points (21) and rebounds (11), with a perfect 10-10 performance from the field. He was one of five Huskies in double figures, including Jordan Hawkins, who added 22 and shot 6-9 from beyond the arc. All told, 11 Huskies scored points, including walk on Andrew Hurley.
UConn went on a quick 5-0 burst to begin the game, starting with a great design to Andre Jackson on the first possession, setting the tone for the afternoon. The Huskies were bigger, stronger and more athletic than the Sharks, who had just six scholarship players available. Even though LIU hit three of its first four shots to begin the game and responded with a 5-0 run of its own to tie the game, that was the end of it.
UConn went on a 19-2 run over a 5:24 span after Jacob Johnson tied the game at 5-5 with a jumper and that was all the Huskies needed. Armed with a 25-7 lead, the Huskies continued to play free and easy and build a lead that rapidly ballooned.
The Sharks were unable to get anything going offensively. They were 2-18 on field goal attempts over a nearly 12-minute stretch through the first half. In that same span, UConn was 14-19 and built a 30-point lead.
The visitors made their final five field goals of the first half, but it was still 62-27 headed into the break. Clingan was 8-8 from the floor for 17 points and Alex Karaban added 13 points on 5-5 shooting and finished with 19 on the day. The Huskies were 62.5 percent from the field as a team, while the Sharks were just 37 percent.
It wasn’t just those two; Adama Sanogo also turned defense into offense. On consecutive possessions, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound force of nature drove the ball the length of the floor and then made an athletic move for the lay-up. He then stole the ball at midcourt from RJ Greene, tracked it down and grabbed two more easy points.
Coming into the game, UConn’s adjusted defensive efficiency was ranked No. 4 according to KenPom, while LIU’s adjusted offensive efficiency was ranked No. 351 out of 363 Division I teams. The story was the same on the opposite side, with the Huskies sitting at No. 8 on offensive, compared to No. 322 on defense.
LIU’s struggle continued through the second half, though the hosts mostly stepped off the gas. UConn brought in its reserves at about the five-minute mark, but its largest lead was still as high as 57. The only consideration over most of the final 20 minutes was whether the Huskies would cover the spread that hovered around 40 points, depending upon the site, as well as whether the total, which was set in the neighborhood of 166.5, would go over or under. For those keeping track, it was UConn and the over.
UConn (11-0) begins Big East play on Saturday upon its return from finals week. The opener, on the road against Butler, is at 7 p.m. on FS1.