Huskies, closer to full strength, roll over UNC Wilmington

UConn Athletic Communications / November 18, 2022


STORRS, Conn. β€” UConn student Jordan Hawkins celebrated his return to the lineup with a career-high 20 points.

Junior Andre Jackson Jr. celebrated his return to the lineup with 5 assists and inspirational energy.

Junior Adama Sanogo made his return after a mediocre performance with a solid 24 points.

The trio, along with the impressive depth the UConn men’s basketball team has displayed during the early season, shrugged in North Carolina Wilmington’s opening minutes to bombard the visiting Seahawks. 86-50, Friday evenings in the Gampel Pavilion.

The No. 25 Huskies (4-0) opened up a tight game with a 17-6 run in the last 4:00 of the first half and a 24-5 blast in the first 9:00 of the second. Nine players hit the scoreboard as UConn extended their lead to 41 points and rolled over the finish line in their fourth straight game with over 80 points.

“I said that a few times in the huddle, but now the depth is really showing,” said the UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “You have to bring quality to the pitch, both defensively and backboard. We’ve got more depth and more quality than we’ve had since I’ve been here. You have to play well to stay on the pitch.”

The head coach was obviously thrilled to have his two starters back in action after Jackson missed the first three games with a broken pinky and Hawkins missed the last two after suffering a concussion in the season opener.

“Andre is just a rare type of player,” Hurley said. β€œHe turned the whole game around and only took two shots. The energy he brought – plus 33. Sometimes the plus/minus is irrelevant, but not in this case. He changed the entire tenure of the game.”

Hawkins has a career-high 5 three-pointers and added 2 assists and 2 steals en route to his first 20-point game in college.

“For a guy who’s been out there and been on a team that plays as hard as they do, he’s pretty darn good looking,” Hurley said.

Wilmington (1-3) didn’t make life easy for UConn early on as forward Amari Kelly was hard against the glass and lightning fast guards Jamarii Thomas (16 points) and Shykeim Phillips (16 points) were uncontrollable.

But the Seahawks have had their share of problems trying to contain Sanogo, who had a disappointing 11-point performance in UConn’s last game but had 17 points in the first half against Wilmington alone.

UConn held a slight 23-22 lead with under 4:00 in the first half, but Hawkins took over and scored 9 points to lead the Huskies to a 40-28 halftime lead.

With Hawkins and newcomer Alex Karaban (12 points, 5 rebounds) shooting from the outside and Sanogo a force on the inside, the Huskies completely dominated the first 10 minutes of the second half.

When the dust cleared, UConn held a 64-33 lead and the competition was out of reach.

“We just have to push each other in training every day and get all the guys who weren’t here back on track,” Jackson said. “Once we all acknowledge what Coach Hurley has in mind for this team, we’re going to have a special group.”

UConn won’t have much time to enjoy the win as the Huskies get back in action on Sunday, hosting Delaware State at the XL Center in Hartford (5:00 p.m. FS1).