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NCAA Tournament First Round: UConn men’s basketball takes down Iona, 87-63

After a close first half, the Huskies pulled away to claim Dan Hurley’s first NCAA Tournament win as UConn head coach.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The UConn Huskies took care of business in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday afternoon, overcoming a tight first half to pull away in the second and advance with an 87-63 victory at MVP Arena in Albany, New York.

Adama Sanogo was the driving force for the Huskies, finishing with an ultra-efficient 28 points on 13-17 shooting while pulling down 13 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season. Jordan Hawkins had zero points in the first half but finished with 13 after sparking the Huskies’ early-second-half run.

The Husky bench also came through with 26 points as Clingan finished with 12 while Nahiem Alleyne added eight and Joey Calcaterra contributed six on two 3-pointers.

Iona came into this game ready to play. The contest featured five lead changes in the first half and no lead larger than four points for either team as the Gaels took a two-point lead into the break. Andre Jackson and Donovan Clingan were the Huskies’ leading scorers after 20 minutes, with eight points each.

Rick Pitino’s squad was shooting out of its mind in the first half, hitting its first three deep shots and nearly half of its shots in the first 20 minutes before coming back to reality in the second. UConn finished much better in field goal percentage (48 percent-39 percent) and both teams shot 44 percent from beyond the arc on the afternoon. The Huskies also dominated the boards, 45-29.

This was the first NCAA Tournament win for UConn under Dan Hurley in three tries. The Huskies advance to play 5-seeded St. Mary’s on Sunday.