No. 6 UConn men’s basketball fell short against the No. 25 Marquette Golden Eagles, 82-76. It’s the Huskies’ third loss of the season; all three have been on the road in Big East play.
Donovan Clingan paced the Huskies with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Andre Jackson added nine points, six rebounds, and three assists. Alex Karaban chipped in 17 points and that was about it in terms of players who were having a good outing. Adama Sanogo added 10 points but had five of the team’s 16 turnovers.
The Huskies finish their stretch of KenPom Killers at an uninspiring 2-3, draining a lot of the euphoria from one month ago. But these last five games have been against a red-hot murderer's row. Marquette has won eight straight, Xavier has won 10 straight, and Providence has won nine straight.
Marquette’s big three of Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Oso Ighodaro, and Kam Jones combined for 51 points, while UConn’s bench sans Clingan only added five points. Turnovers and cold shooting (6-22 from three) did the Huskies in.
This was a competitive game from the start. The two sides traded buckets for the first 10 minutes, with Marquette going right at Karaban early and often. The Golden Eagles looked ready to soar after back-to-back threes, but Karaban helped return the favor as the Huskies rattled off a 16-0 run to build a nine-point lead. Clingan chipped in three buckets and back-to-back threes from Jackson and Joey Calcaterra had the Fiserv Forum quiet.
In his first four minutes, Clingan produced six points, four rebounds, and two blocks. Marquette had no answer for the freshman. As soon as he exited the game, Marquette rattled off a 9-0 run, exacerbated by four Sanogo turnovers. After a Calhoun-esque hook by Hurley, Clingan responded with more blocks and easy buckets. The Huskies were shooting much better in the first half and took a 37-33 lead into the break.
At the half, Hurley told Jon Rothstein: “We’d be up more if we took advantage of the inside opportunities. They have no matchup for him (Clingan), and our guys are finding him.”
Marquette regained the lead five minutes into the second half, capitalizing as turnovers started to pile up. Even though Sanogo found some easier buckets, Marquette’s pick-and-roll with Prosper and Ighodaro proved difficult to cover at the other end.
Once again, Clingan brought UConn back from the brink, with the help of some nifty passes from Jackson. With 10 minutes left, UConn had to fight to keep it a one-possession game with a whole lot of offense by accident.
Said Hurley at a mic’d up timeout: “We have no heavy chest defensively. we just give ground, give ground, give ground. Its a complete lack of composure. And if they're denying things, go by them under control and look for kick-outs.”
Down four after the U-8 timeout and in the bonus, it was time for the Huskies to make their move. While Jackson and Clingan continued their best Stockton and Malone impression, Marquette was able to stretch its lead to seven.
An effective 1-3-1 zone from UConn was able to disrupt Marquette late, and five-straight points from Hawkins cut it to three with 1:12 left to keep this contested to the end, but ultimately it wasn’t enough. Jordan Hawkins finished with eight points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field on the night.
UConn now heads home to take on St. John’s at the XL Center on Sunday, Jan. 15 at noon ET in a game that will be televised on FS1.