Donning their throwbacks for the second home game in a row, No. 24 UConn men’s basketball beat Seton Hall, 70-65, in front of a sold-out crowd at Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies improve to 18-7 overall and 9-5 in conference play, holding down third place in the Big East.
Adama Sanogo was utterly dominant, finishing with 20 points, 16 rebounds, three blocks, and only two fouls. Tyrese Martin also had a double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He and RJ Cole both hit many gutsy buckets as Cole scored 16 as well. Whaley had seven points while playing stellar lockdown defense. Jackson helped out in a variety of ways, ending the game with 5 points, four rebounds, and a career-high six assists.
Sanogo was very active early, getting a touch on the first three possessions of the game, which turned into a trip to the free-throw line and a beautiful assist to a cutting RJ Cole off of an offensive board. UConn committed three turnovers in the first four minutes, but the pace was much more frantic than the Huskies usually play.
Seton Hall came out of the gate ice cold, hitting one of its first ten shots. Give a lot of credit to the Husky defense. They were playing tight on the ball, staying grounded, and contesting everything at the rim. UConn came into the game ranked second nationally in blocks per game at 6.8 and lived up to that billing early in this one with four blocks in the first eight minutes.
Both teams started off a combined 0-7 from behind the arc, until freshman Jordan Hawkins broke that, burying a wing three after quick-faking a pass to the corner.
UConn was only 1-10 from three in the first half but held a 5-7 point lead for most of the first half until Seton Hall caught fire from deep, hitting three triples in a row that gave them the lead with 3:32 to go. Jamir Harris, Myles Cale, and Jared Rhoden each contributed to the barrage. The Huskies went into the locker room up by one.
UConn came out hot in the second, with a Whaley jumper and three-pointers from Martin, Cole, and Whaley putting the Huskies up eight within three and a half minutes.
The rest of the way saw the same cycle repeat itself a few times. UConn would go up by about 7-10 points, which would raise the noise level in Gampel to a steady roar and have the Huskies constantly threatening to blow the game open. Seton Hall was never in the lead but stayed within striking distance the rest of the way.
Jared Rhoden hit a three to bring the Pirates within six with four remaining, and Isaiah Whaley immediately responded with a jumper after a media timeout.
A tough bucket by Kadary Richmond shortly after brought Seton Hall back within six yet again with three minutes remaining, but Martin then hit a flat-footed fadeaway to push the lead back to eight.
Perhaps the biggest knockout punch came with 1:18 left. With UConn’s shot clock winding down, Cole gave the ball up at the top of the key to Sanogo, who drove down the lane and threw up a 12-foot jump-floater that hit bottom and sucked the remaining life out of Seton Hall. If that didn’t do it, the massive block by Tyrese Martin on Richmond right after definitely did.
The Huskies gave Seton Hall a few extra chances by allowing some late threes and missing three straight from the line with under a minute to go, but still held on for the victory.
Sanogo staying out of foul trouble contributed to his dominance. He got off to a fast start with 12 points and 9 rebounds in the first half and zero personal fouls. This was a great sign for the star big man who had been dealing with foul trouble. Sanogo did this against Ike Obiagu, a 7-foot-2 behemoth who ranks sixth in the NCAA in blocks with 3.3 per game. Obiagu committed three fouls in that first half and finished with five points on the night.
This is a strong win for the Huskies, who avoid a second loss to Seton Hall in the regular season and grab a quality win as they begin a crucial stretch of the season.
The Huskies are back in action this Saturday at 12 p.m. ET against Xavier, their second game in a row at Gampel Pavilion. The game will air on FOX.