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No. 18 UConn men’s basketball downs St. John’s, 95-86

A block party in the Garden helped UConn earn another comfortable victory

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at St. John Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

UConn men’s basketball had an offensive explosion in the garden on Saturday afternoon and left with a 95-86 victory. The Huskies move to 22-7 on the season (11-7 Big East), and are one step closer to the fourth seed in the Big East tournament.

Jordan Hawkins led the way once again with 20 points on 6-18 shooting (4-10 from three), his sixth 20-point outing in his last eight games. Everyone chipped in a a major way for the Huskies, especially the bench trio of Alleyne, Clingan, and Calcaterra, who scored a combined 30 points, emblematic of UConn’s early season success.

Points were hard to come by in the early minutes, as both teams could only muster a single bucket in the first four minutes until Jordan Hawkins lightning quick three-point release breathed some life into the Huskies offense.

This seemed to actually wake up both teams, as the pace quickened immensely for the rest of the half. The two squads started running and gunning, seemingly hitting every other shot that was taken. The story of the first period was a tale as as old as time, as the Huskies dominated the offensive glass. UConn went to their bread and butter early, crashing the offensive boards hard on the back of Clingan. The freshman big came in at about the 12 minute mark and put up a quick three offensive boards and four points.

The Johnnies were shooting almost 20% better from the floor than the Huskies, but couldn't eke ahead because of the Huskies offensive rebounding prowess and an uncharacteristically good job of taking care of the ball.

The Huskies had nine total offensive boards in the first half, which turned into 13 chance points. Couple that with a season low two first half turnovers, and they had full control of the game, taking a 50-41 lead in the intermission. This was the third time this season the Huskies hit the 50 point threshold in the first half, the other two times coming against Delaware State and LIU, both 35+ point blowout wins.

In the second period, Dan Hurley’s squad clamped down on the defensive end, forcing St. John’s to take a number of tough shots that they were converting in the first half, but the luck seemed to run out. The Red Storm started 2-14 from the floor in the second, partly due to the block party the Huskies were serving up in the paint, once again led by Clingan who was swatting everything in sight. The Big East freshman of the year hopeful had five blocks in the second half alone and helped bolster the team total of eleven on the game, more than double their season average of 4.8.

A 7-0 run by St. John’s cut the lead to nine with just under 10-left, as UConn got a bit careless with the ball which tuned into break opportunities for the Johnnies that they converted. UConn was able to stymie the small amount of momentum conjured up by St. John’s by getting some quick put backs. As much as the Red Storm tried to claw their way back in the came, UConn only let them get within eight the rest of the way. Newton hit Jackson on a backdoor cut for the oop that gave the Huskies a 16-point lead with about three minutes left and put an exclamation point on a well-deserved victory.

Next up for the Huskies is a Wednesday home matchup against DePaul, their last home game of the year. The game will tip at 7:00 p.m. ET and air on CBS.