It’s one of the program’s greatest games in its long history of existence. It was an utter battle that granted the Huskies their first win against a ranked opponent since March of 2020. The University of Connecticut took care of business and fought till the very end against a tough Auburn team. The Huskies played some of their best basketball this season and were determined to grab Wednesday’s win by any means necessary.
In a game that accumulated 224 total points, the highest number of points between two ranked teams in 12 years, both teams put on a show. From UConn center Adama Sanogo, who led the Huskies with 30 points, to Auburn guard K.D. Johnson, who put up 27 points, both teams had standout performances in a true show of talent across the court.
Who led the Huskies to Wednesday’s victory? It was truly a team effort for UConn as three players scored over 20 points and five players achieved double figure scoring. While Wednesday’s win was a team victory, there were definitely some standout players.
Tyler Polley was great and even that is an understatement to how the fifth year student played against Auburn. With 24 points and 60% shooting, he was a crucial part of UConn’s win as the forward shot lights out from three. He had several crucial three-point shots, including the shot that allowed the Huskies to enter the first overtime of the game. His insane performance elevated his offensive rating to 150.9, which is good for 18th in the country.
“That’s why you come to UConn to play in games like that,” said Polley.
Point guard R.J. Cole was excellent as well and was great on both sides of the court. With 24 points, six assists, and three steals, that’s exactly what the team needs to win crucial games, especially against a talented team like the Tigers. Cole talked about the team’s rollercoaster game that saw the game’s lead fluctuate between both teams until the final buzzer sounded.
“I definitely thought numerous times we had the game won,” said Cole. “ But Auburn wasn’t going to go down without a fight.”
But, how could I forget the contributions of freshman Jordan Hawkins? In just the third game of his college career, the freshman had 16 points off the bench and has been playing just as advertised for the Huskies. Hawkins’s offense has been just what the team needed as they sought to replace the scoring output of former Huskies star James Bouknight.
Even with the Huskies starting the game slow and trailing 21-10 at one point, the team persevered after a timeout to take control of the game and grab the lead. All signs pointed to more of the same action in the second half, but the Tigers were not ready to let that happen. Some hard defense coupled with an extraordinary offensive output gave the Tigers the lead. However, a missed free throw by Cole combined with a crucial Whaley rebound led to a Polley three-pointer, perhaps the most important shot of the game.
No fan for either team could have expected two overtime periods for this game and a close victory for the Huskies was very possible as the clock read 17 seconds. However, a late Hawkins turnover and a missed jump shot from Cole led the game to another overtime period. An already excruciating battle for both teams was not over and neither team was ready to concede. UConn was just ready to play in the game’s second overtime and within a short time, the Huskies took the lead and never looked back.
After such a tiring game, the Huskies are back at it again and this time, they play the Michigan State Spartans, a team that is no easy opponent after taking down the Loyola Ramblers. That game will take place at 12 pm on ESPN for another prime time college basketball showdown. Will the Huskies be able to achieve victory once again after a tough Auburn matchup? That remains to be seen, but this team has put college basketball on notice and they are not ready to go away anytime soon.