Splitting its first four games between campus in Storrs, Conn., and Hartford, UConn plays its first contest in the state capital, about a half-hour away from the university, on Saturday afternoon.
The 24th-ranked Huskies (1-0) face Coppin State coming off a 51-point win over Central Connecticut in the season opener. It was the Huskies’ largest margin of victory since a 103-47 win over Tennessee-Chattanooga in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
Sophomore Adama Sanogo led UConn with a career-high 20 points and added five rebounds and three blocked shots. He was one of five players to score in double figures, with the Huskies getting 15 points from R.J. Cole, 14 from Tyrese Martin, 11 for Tyler Polley and 10 for Jalen Gaffney.
The Huskies posted a 61.3 field goal percentage and made 8 of 13 3-pointers.
“The theme with the team is to hit the ground and get running, especially after returning eight players that played significant roles, while also playing Top 25-level basketball,” Huskies coach Dan Hurley said. “Losing such a big piece like James Bouknight (now in the NBA with Charlotte Hornets) hurts, but everyone is a year better, and especially having the student section to back you is a big thing as well.”
UConn plays four games at home or near home this month before heading to The Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
The Huskies have won all seven meetings with Coppin State, all since 1997. The most recent meeting was in December 2017, when UConn won 72-59.
“We know we are a talented team,” Cole said. “It’s a matter of us playing to our identity every day and coming out with grit and toughness, and everything else will come into place.”
Coppin State won’t play a game in its own gym until Nov. 17, starting the season with five road games in a seven-day span.
Hurley can empathize.
“I’ve been there, played that type of schedule,” the Huskies coach said, according to the New Haven Register. “But we get everyone’s best shot. When you coach or play at UConn, you get everyone’s best.”
The Eagles (0-3) traveled to Chicago for their first two games and lost 103-45 to Loyola-Chicago on Nov. 9, then 97-72 to DePaul the following night after a much closer first half. Then it was off to New Jersey to face Rider on Friday night, with a day game in Connecticut the next day.
Coppin State fell to Rider 81-69. Tyree Corbett led the Eagles with 16 points in 19 minutes before fouling out, and Nendah Tarke had 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Coppin State had four players score in double figures but came up short.
Jesse Zarzuela, who scored 11 points against Rider, leads the team with an average of 14.7 points per game. The sophomore put up 25 points in the loss to DePaul. Corbett (11.5 ppg) and Tarke (10 ppg) also are averaging in double figures.
It’s been a slow start against strong competition, but before that, the Eagles were picked in a preseason poll to finish fourth in the MEAC this season.
–Field Level Media