UConn men’s basketball graced Hartford for the second time this season, leaving the XL Center with a huge win over Mississippi Valley State, 87-53. Freshman point guard Stephon Castle sat out the game with a knee injury, resulting in Solo Ball’s first career start.
Cam Spencer led the way for the Huskies, scoring 19 points in the first half alone and finishing with seven triples and 25 points, eclipsing his season-high of 23 from last year with Rutgers. Donovan Clingan got going early and often as well, scoring nine in the first half with 17 on the game, hitting 7-of-8 shots from the field, while Alex Karaban powered through foul trouble to post 14 points and grab five boards.
At times Hurley was vocally critical of his team’s hustle and rebounding effort, as the Huskies were slow to build a lead. But Spencer’s threes pushed the margin and their defense was stifling. They held the Delta Devils to one three-pointer and just 32 percent shooting in the game.
UConn’s defense wasn’t its best throughout the game but its ball movement was. The Huskies finished with 20 assists on 29 made baskets. They also won the rebounding battle convincingly, 41-30.
With Castle out, we got an extended look at Ball, who flashed his athleticism and shooting while dropping 10 points. Ross and Stewart saw a little time as well and Apostolos Romoglou got some burn as well. Tristen Newton scored 10 to ensure that all starters were in double digits, as the super senior also dished out seven assists and grabbed eight rebounds, both team-highs.
Next up, the Huskies will visit their home away from home, starting the four-team Empire Classic on Sunday against Indiana at Madison Square Garden. On Monday, they’ll play the winner of Texas vs. Louisville.