It was a game of personal achievements and extreme stress. But, in the end, it resulted in a pivotal win for the University of Connecticut.
“When we’re fully loaded, we have the potential to be a monster,” said Huskies head coach Dan Hurley.
The team certainly had its bright spots in Wednesday’s win over Marquette University, and that started with the talented backcourt of guards Tyrese Martin and R.J. Cole. Both players achieved personal milestones, with Martin eclipsing 1,000 career points and Cole eclipsing 2,000.
“Coach emphasized before the game that road conference games count as one and a half, so we just went with that mindset,” said Martin.
The senior had himself a night in Wisconsin and impacted the game on both sides of the court. Martin had 25 points that included six rebounds and quality defense. The guard’s quality offensive performance helped immensely in the second half as the Golden Eagles came within one point of tying the Huskies. Martin simply wasn’t going to let that happen.
Along with Martin, the ever-dangerous Cole was lethal again. The guard had an efficient night with 20 points on 7-12 shooting. The fifth-year guard got his teammates involved with seven assists and pressured the Marquette defense all night with two steals. It’s become a daily basis for the Howard transfer to give his all on the court and elevate the Huskies to play their brand of basketball.
Tonight was also the return of Adama Sanogo to the team after a battle with an abdominal injury. While the young center had a few mishaps, his impact was felt for the Huskies, adding six points and a block to the Huskies’ first Big East win this season. Sanogo has been huge for the team when healthy, and as the big man gradually adjusts to his regular minutes in the lineup, the team will be even better.
While the guard had a disappointing second half, Andre Jackson played a big part in the Huskies grabbing a first-half lead. Jackson had 10 points on the night, three steals, and seven rebounds. For a team that could use another scoring option, Jackson is certainly a great player to fill that scoring hole. With monstrous athleticism and an improving shooting stroke, the sophomore’s skill set on the court has undoubtedly been an incredible sight to see.
Along with performances individually, the Huskies looked great on the offensive end as the team attacked the Golden Eagles inside for easy opportunities at the free-throw line or difficult layups. At an even 50% team field goal percentage, UConn looked great as Martin and Cole helped keep the team in control till the final buzzer sounded.
Despite 20 points from Marquette star Justin Lewis, the Huskies’ defense pushed the team towards victory. Led by defensive juggernauts Akok Akok and Isaiah Whaley, the Huskies were not ready to give the Golden Eagles an easy time and while the Eagles were still able to shoot 48% from the field, the Huskies were able to get the job done for the win.
In UConn’s next matchup, the team faces a formidable opponent with the Xavier Musketeers. While Xavier could not come out victorious against Villanova, they still prove a tough opponent for the Huskies. That game will take place next Tuesday in Ohio.