The No. 19 UConn Huskies dropped another Big East matchup, falling to No. 13 Xavier, 82-79, at Gampel Pavilion to snap a 17-game winning streak at the Huskies’ on-campus home. The Huskies trailed by as much as 17 points on the night but still had Sean Miller’s squad sweating the outcome late.
The first half was an absolute wreck. Andre Jackson started off 0-for-7 and took far too many of the Huskies’ early shots before he was subbed out four minutes into the game. The visitors begged him to shoot and he was happy to oblige. The Huskies’ shot selection overall was suspect, particularly early, even with Jackson on the bench.
The Musketeers started on a 9-0 run and looked like the much better team by far as they took a 15-point lead into the halftime break. They were shooting an impressive 55 percent from three and 50 percent from the field through 20 minutes, while the Huskies were an anemic 1-of-13 (8 percent) from three and lacking any edge from their leaders. Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins combined to score just six points in the first half.
The Huskies stormed back in the second half, getting within two on multiple occasions even though they never tied or gained the lead. Adama Sanogo came to life, finishing with 11 points and 9 rebounds, while Hawkins lit up as well. He finished with 28 points on the night, hitting 5-of-10 3-pointers and all seven of his free throws. The sophomore was the reason UConn was in this game late.
After UConn got within two points with 12 minutes left Xavier responded with a run of its own to build the lead back up to double digits within three minutes. But UConn came back, once again. Hawkins was not going to be denied and Newton was the most assertive Husky with the ball most of the night. He was their second-leading scorer with 23 points.
With 2:40 left, a Hawkins and-one cut the lead down to one as the sellout home crowd roared. Xavier missed on its ensuing possession, but Hawkins was called for an offensive foul on the other end as he attempted the running leaner that could have given UConn its first lead. Xavier responded with a second-chance layup to push the lead to three and then Newton double-dribbled on the Huskies’ next possession.
The Huskies had another chance late but failed to get a three-point attempt off. Newton was fouled with the Huskies down three and two seconds left, effectively sealing the game.
Dan Hurley’s squad did a good job of avoiding embarrassment on a night that was shaping up that way. Despite how lopsided the contest was at times, UConn still played well enough to win.
If the Huskies could have executed better in those late-game situations, instead of turning the ball over and failing to get shots up, they could have at least held a lead at some point or even captured the victory. These mistakes are coachable but also frustrating to see.
Next up, UConn (16-6, 5-6 Big East) is off for six days until a Tuesday night matchup against DePaul in Chicago. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. on FS1.