HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)The NCAA championship trophy made a visit to UConn this weekend, providing just the inspiration the struggling Huskies needed.
Jordan Hawkins scored 20 points and No. 15 UConn snapped a three-game losing streak in emphatic fashion by routing Butler 86-56 on Sunday.
”Just having that (trophy) around us, just reminded us what the main goal is,” Hawkins said. ”Just keep pushing, even through this hard stretch and brighter days will come.”
Adama Sanogo added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Huskies (16-5, 5-5 Big East), who won their first 14 games this season but dropped five of six coming into this matchup with the Bulldogs (11-10, 3-7).
Alex Karaban added 15 points and Tristen Newton scored 11 points for the Huskies.
Coach Dan Hurley said the win was an important confidence booster for his team.
”We know we don’t suck,” Hurley said. ”We know we’re really good and we know that these next 10 games we’ve got a bunch of people coming to Gampel and that we’ve got a chance to start stacking some wins.”
Chuck Harris had 16 points and Simas Lukosius added 12 for Butler, which was playing its third straight game without center Manny Bates, who is still recovering from a knee injury suffered earlier this month against St. John’s.
”He’s a heck of a player, but he’s also kind of a leader for this team,” Butler coach Thad Matta said. ”Can he go on Wednesday, I’m not sure? We’ve kind of been doing this all year long with game-time decisions and it’s not going real well for us right now.”
Without its big man, Butler was outscored 42-18 in the paint and outrebounded 48-22.
Jayden Taylor chipped in with 11 points for the Bulldogs.
UConn used a 17-3 run over just under 7 minutes in the first half to take a 32-13 lead and seize control of the game.
The Huskies led 45-23 at halftime, holding the Bulldogs to just six field goals on 25 shots before intermission. Harris accounted for 14 of Butler’s first-half points.
UConn scored the first seven points of the second half and cruised to the win.
UConn forward Samson Johnson, who hadn’t played since suffering a stress injury to his right foot in the season opener, entered the game with 12 minutes left. He had two points and two rebounds in seven minutes.
”It was just good to have him out there,” Hurley said. It’s going to take some pressure off of Alex and it just gives us a little more flexibility.”
Butler: Butler fell to 0-7 against the Huskies, including a loss in the 2011 NCAA Tournament title game. The Bulldogs scored just 46 points in losing by 22 points to the Huskies in Indianapolis back in December.
UConn: Hurley and associate head coach Kimani Young were back on the sideline after missing the team’s loss to Seton Hall on Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19. The school says both are symptom free, but both wore masks on the bench.
The win may allow UConn to remain in the AP Top 25. The Huskies had been ranked as high as No. 2 before their recent losing skid.
Butler travels about 75 miles east to Providence to take on the No. 22 Friars on Wednesday.
UConn returns to campus to host No. 8 Xavier on Wednesday night at Gampel Pavilion.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25