No. 25 UConn closes a busy stretch of three games in six days on Sunday when Delaware State visits Hartford, Conn.
The Huskies (4-0) will be facing a quick turnaround, playing their second game in three days after Friday’s 86-50 win over visiting UNC Wilmington. Coach Dan Hurley’s team has won nine consecutive home games between Hartford and Storrs, Conn.
The Huskies took steps toward full health, as junior Andre Jackson Jr. (concussion) and sophomore Jordan Hawkins (finger) returned after missing the majority, if not all, of the first three games against Stonehill, Boston University and Buffalo.
Hawkins canned five 3-pointers and finished with 20 points, both career highs, in 25 minutes of action.
“We saw that a lot in the closed scrimmages and the preseason,” said Hurley, the fifth-year coach. “It was unfortunate that he got hurt in the opener and wasn’t able to get the fireworks going early. He looked sharp.”
Though Jackson took just a pair of shots and scored two points in 19 minutes, the co-captain’s presence was a lift to the team.
“He was rusty with some things, but the way he got after it, in terms of identity, we missed that,” Hurley said. “He’s the best leader I’ve ever been around as a coach or a player, and I’m not sure it’s particularly close.”
Reigning Big East Player of the Week Adama Sanogo logged 24 points as UConn’s leading scorer for the third time in four games. Rookie of the Week Alex Karaban continued his strong start, adding 12 points on three triples to round out the double-digit contributors for the Huskies.
The recent injuries to key players gave the likes of Karaban opportunities to play extended minutes, which will only benefit UConn as its challenges get tougher in the coming week.
“The depth really shows now,” Hurley said. “We have more depth and more quality than we’ve had, probably since I’ve been here.”
Sunday’s game will cap a season-opening, five-game homestand for the Huskies, who will then depart for Portland, Ore., to play in the Phil Knight Invitational over Thanksgiving.
UConn was 5-0 and 8-1 to begin last season.
Taming the Huskies will be yet another challenge for Delaware State (1-3), which has faced the ACC (Virginia Tech), Big East (Villanova) and Ivy League (Columbia) in its three losses. The lone win came against Division III Immaculata.
The Hornets kept things close in the first two games of a five-game road trip, including Wednesday’s 70-65 loss at Columbia.
O’Koye Parker scored 16 points and Khyrie Staten added 15 during the outing in New York, as Delaware State shot 61.3 percent in the second half to cut a 15-point deficit down to three in the final minute.
“(Stone is one of) three guys with some experience of playing, so they’re not new (to college basketball),” Delaware State coach Stan Waterman said. “They’re a little older, a little stronger.”
Brandon Stone and Staten are averaging 15.8 and 15.5 points per game, respectively, to top the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s Hornets.
–Field Level Media