No. 4 UConn men’s basketball avoided extending its losing streak to three, defeating the Creighton Bluejays, 69-60, at Gampel Pavilion for the Huskies’ first win over Creighton in program history.
The first half saw both teams trade the lead back and forth, competing fairly evenly. Creighton made a lot of mistakes but had little trouble getting to the hoop early and UConn was hitting from three. Jordan Hawkins hit one for the first basket of the game and was fouled on another in the early going, hitting all three free throws. He got another three late to finish with 11 on the half on his way to 17 in the game.
Adama Sanogo helped the Huskies secure the lead in the first half. The junior big man took on Ryan Kalkbrenner and went to work in the post, hitting consecutive buckets on multiple occasions and scoring 14 of his 26 points in the first half. He also grabbed nine boards, tying Andre Jackson for the team high.
Tristen Newton also gave UConn a spark. He got to the line for the Huskies’ first and only other first-half free-throw attempts since Hawkins and hit a three of his own as he scored seven in the first 20 minutes and 13 in the game.
It was not a great performance from the Husky bench, which managed just four points from Donovan Clingan, who impacted the game in other ways, including two blocks and three rebounds. Hassan Diarra gave the Huskies 16 scoreless minutes but played great defense.
UConn hit eight threes on the day to the Blue Jays’ two, which helped keep the Huskies afloat while they discovered their offense. The unit struggled with shot selection at times, but was able to depend on Sanogo and Hawkins in the moments where Creighton surged to keep the game close. The Huskies took a 37-29 lead into the halftime break.
The Huskies got the lead up to 11 early in the second half but started the final period 1-of-9 from the field as Creighton mounted a run to reclaim the lead. Sanogo’s takeover made sure the Huskies got the lead back and never let it go. He scored six straight points and eight of the Huskies’ points in a row to push the Husky lead to five.
Then some secondary players also got into the mix. Alex Karaban scored on a putback and then Clingan scored four straight points to push the UConn lead to 11 with 8:23 left.
Creighton fought hard to cut that lead down to single digits two more times but Sanogo and Hawkins were locked in. Newton also got a few more buckets at the end to make sure UConn won comfortably.
The Huskies advance to 15-2, 4-2 in Big East play. Next up, they are on the road against Marquette on Wednesday, January 11 in a game that will tip off at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.