UConn men’s basketball hosted Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Gampel Pavilion Saturday afternoon in a game billed as a tune-up. The Golden Lions didn’t get the memo, pushing the Huskies to the brink across the opening minutes before a late first-half run got the home team ahead for good in an eventual 101-63 win.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff played with intensity and was not afraid to take deep threes, making a handful of them while playing UConn (8-1) close for the first 18 minutes. They even held a lead 10 minutes into the game — something that previous Husky opponents like Indiana, Texas, and North Carolina can’t even say. Dan Hurley’s squad started off cold (3-of-12 first half) from three.
With 2:12 left in the first half, they mounted a 12-2 run keyed by six points from Tristen Newton that ensured the Huskies took a comfortable, 12-point lead into the break.
From there it was all UConn. The Huskies’ threes started falling and they had separate runs of 10-0 and 20-0 to build up their lead.
Stephon Castle played in his second game back from a knee injury, coming off the bench to score seven points with four rebounds and four assists in 18 minutes as Hurley went with the same starting lineup that’s been going out since the Mississippi Valley State game.
Among the starters, Alex Karaban notched a career-high 26 points, hitting 6-of-9 from three, knocking down 4-of-4 in the second half to put the game out of reach. Tristen Newton added 16 points and six assists while Cam Spencer scored 15, going 5-of-6 from three. Donovan Clingan had an efficient 11-point performance while also grabbing seven rebounds and swatting three shots. Solo Ball scored eight points and had one absolutely insane block.
SOLO SENT THIS ONE‼️ pic.twitter.com/62u7qa0mOv— UConn Men's Basketball (@UConnMBB) December 9, 2023
Off the bench, Jaylin Stewart matched his season-high with seven points, doing it in 10 minutes, while Samson Johnson had four points and three blocks in 16 minutes. Hassan Diarra had four points, four rebounds, two assists, and three blocks in 11 minutes.
The Huskies were being outrebounded at the half by three but addressed that by the end of the game, 42-28. They finished 56 percent on field goals and 46 percent from three, hitting 10-of-16 behind the arc in the second half. They also won the turnover battle, 9-13, and blocked nine shots.
Next up, the Huskies have some time off before they travel to Seattle to face Gonzaga on Friday, December 15. Gonzaga’s campus is about a four-hour drive from the site of the game, Climate Pledge Arena. Tip-off will be at 10 p.m. ET and the game will be televised on ESPN2.