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No. 6 UConn men’s basketball downed by St. John’s, 85-74

It was the Huskies’ first home loss of the season, and their worst loss of the season as well.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

What should have been a get-right game for No. 6 UConn men’s basketball was instead a nightmare, as St. John’s took down the Huskies 85-74 on Sunday.

Jordan Hawkins led the way with a career-high 31 points on 9-16 shooting, including 4-9 from beyond the arc, but few others on the team were clicking. Adama Sanogo (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Alex Karaban (16 points) were the other double-digit scorers. Those three combined to shoot 20-36 from the field, while the rest of the team was 3-19 with 13 points.

The Huskies turned the ball over 21 times and had two separate stretches of more than five minutes without a field goal. St. John’s dominated points in the paint (44-28) and fast break points (13-0).

Hawkins started with his hair on fire. He played the first 7:17 of the half and scored 14 points on 4-5 shooting. He was 3-4 from beyond the arc and was fouled on an additional 3-pointer, making all three free throws. He even dropped the hammer with this massive dunk.

The rest of the UConn offense, however, was 0-3 from the field in this stretch, and even once he departed, the only points scored were on a pair of Hassan Diarra free throws on a foul that occurred while Hawkins was still on the floor.

Hawkins’ initial rest coincided with a 5:46 span in which UConn scored just four points and did not make a field goal, attempting just three shots. The Huskies’ eight-point lead at the start of the drought evaporated to a tie game before Adama Sanogo broke through with a lay-up.

On the other side, St. John’s wasn’t taking advantage of its opportunities early on in the game. The Red Storm started just 2-8 from the free-throw line and were doing just enough to remain within a few possessions.

Mike Anderson’s team clawed back to a tie the game during a UConn drought and stayed hot through the rest of the half to lead by as much as five. St. John’s started 5-13 from the field and finished the first half with a much more respectable 8-16.

That run continued into the second half. After they went into the locker room tied, the visitors came out much more ready than the Huskies.

UConn turned the ball over on its first two possessions to begin the second half, which turned into four St. John’s points. This was a springboard for a continued hot shooting performance for the Red Storm. They hit their first three shots of the half and started 9-12 from the field.

Despite that, the Huskies hung around as Sanogo came alive. The big man was 4-5 from the field in the second half and Hawkins provided opportune buckets, though nine team turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the second half, including two sideline violations, prevented UConn from re-taking the lead through the middle stages of the second half.

Hawkins brought his team to within four points with 7:54 to go, but St. John’s responded with a 14-2 run over more than six minutes. The only points for UConn came via Karaban free throws, with the game out of reach by the time the Huskies broke the drought.

UConn (15-4, 4-4 Big East) will be back in action on Wednesday against Seton Hall. Tip-off from Prudential Center in Newark, NJ is at 6:30 p.m. on FS1 in a game where the Huskies will need to show up a lot better if they want to be the leaders of the Big East.