UConn’s unbeaten start has been highlighted by strong performances from the team’s front-court trio of Adama Sanogo, Donovan Clingan and Alex Karaban.
Those performances came against lesser foes, however. On Thursday night, the 20th-ranked Huskies will be in Portland, Ore., to open the Phil Knight Invitational against Oregon.
After the opening round, UConn will face either No. 18 Alabama or No. 12 Michigan State. The eight-team field also includes Villanova, Iowa State, top-ranked North Carolina and Portland.
The Huskies (5-0) are making the long flight after beating Stonehill, Boston University, Buffalo, UNC Wilmington and Delaware State by an average of 30.2 points. UConn shot 51.4 percent in those games and averaged 87.2 points.
Sanogo is averaging 21.4 points and 8 rebounds per game while shooting 67.7 percent from the floor after averaging 14.8 points and shooting 50.4 percent in his sophomore season.
“We are doing whatever we can to make this team great, and we can be the best front court in the country,” Sanogo said. “He (Clingan) can help me out, we know what we have to do to make this team great.”
In Sunday’s 95-60 rout of Delaware State, Sanogo scored 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field and also grabbed eight rebounds. He made eight layups or dunks and earned Big East Player of the Week honors for the second straight week.
Clingan added 16 points and is shooting 76.9 percent through his first five collegiate games.
Karaban, UConn’s third-leading scorer at 11 points per game, is shooting 50.0 percent from the floor and has been in double figures in each game.
“You have two centers who can both create problems for the other team,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “It’s huge if teams have to prepare for our center position, and they’re two different types of players, and the spacing that they create with the way that the team is constituted forces people to pick their poison.”
Oregon (2-2) is playing its second straight ranked opponent after dropping a 66-56 decision to No. 3 Houston on Sunday. The Ducks made just 3 of 22 shots from 3-point range in the loss.
Leading scorer N’Faly Dante scored 16 points Sunday and is shooting 59 percent from the field for the season.
Will Richardson is 5 of 20 from behind the arc and Keeshawn Barthelemy is 6 of 22.
Barthelemy injured his leg in the first half Sunday, was in a walking boot after halftime and might sit out Thursday. If Barthelemy is out, he would leave Oregon without a third guard as South Carolina transfer Jermaine Couisnard is recovering from knee surgery and Brennan Rigsby is dealing with a foot injury.
“I don’t know what Keeshawn’s situation is going to be,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “I don’t like seeing a boot, but we got Jermaine out, we got Brennan out, and now if Keeshawn is out for a while, we’re a little bit guard-short.”
–Field Level Media