It was the UConn men’s basketball team’s first game in two weeks. The team had fought through its most challenging battle of the year with the COVID-19 virus to get to this point and the Huskies needed a tough win against the Seton Hall Pirates to re-establish their dominance in the college basketball world. Instead, it was a result that the team and fans were not hoping for.
“We’re a formidable team,” said UConn head coach Dan Hurley. “When we’re healthy and fully-loaded, we’re a problem. We could easily be sitting as a Top-5 team in the country right now if we closed out games a little bit better, or found a way to win these. But we’ve got to stop losing.”
It’s powerful words from a coach who is done with his team consistently losing leads at the end of massive games. This match was nothing new, with the Huskies leading by nine points over the course of the contest and still finding a way to allow the Pirates to push the Huskies to overtime. That overtime period saw consistent mistakes that allowed Seton Hall to take the three-point victory.
Even though the Huskies could not grab the crucial victory, there were undoubtedly some positive takeaways from this game. Adama Sanogo was a force to be reckoned with, and that’s putting it lightly. The all-conference level player scored 18 points, 16 rebounds, and three blocks. That level of production is something that the Huskies need consistently and while Sanogo was not supposed to play 32 minutes in Saturday’s loss, that did not stop the big man from putting up an incredible statline.
The scoring guard duo of Tyrese Martin and R.J. Cole was excellent again with a combined 28 points and Martin made plenty of clutch three-point opportunities for the Huskies. Before fouling out of the game, Cole was a big factor in giving the Huskies a chance to win.
Andre Jackson continued to progress as a scorer with 10 points and six rebounds. Jackson has worked to push his game even further with more shooting and dependable rebounding. Those are essential factors that UConn needs to utilize for success.
However, the two most key takeaways from UConn were its lackluster defense and turnover rate. With plenty of Seton Hall shots that saw the team grab easy buckets across the court, UConn can’t allow opposing teams to grab easy scoring opportunities if they want to win games. A field-goal percentage of 54.2% is not a great sight to see for a Huskies lineup that prides itself in providing quality defense across the court.
The turnovers were not any better. Jackson, Cole and Martin combining for 12 turnovers alone is not great and 19 overall team turnovers are not doing the Huskies any favors. The Huskies must take better care of the ball, especially with the team needing every possession to win.
It’s another Big East loss for UConn, but the Huskies know what they need to do for success. The team has the perfect opportunity to prove themselves when they return home on Wednesday at Gampel Pavilion for a matchup with St. John’s University. If there’s a better time for the Huskies to grab a much-needed win, Wednesday is the perfect chance, especially after the Red Storm suffered a 10-point loss to the Providence Friars.