These are the games on the schedule for the University of Connecticut, where they must take care of business.
That’s exactly what they did and in impressive fashion.
In UConn’s 96-73 victory over the Hoyas, it was a brilliant demonstration of how important big man Isaiah Whaley is to the overall performance of UConn. Whaley had 15 points and seven rebounds with six offensive boards.
“I don’t think there’s a team in the country who didn’t wish they had a guy like that,” said UConn head coach Dan Hurley on Whaley’s impact on the team.
The big man was everywhere on Tuesday, whether that was picking up an extra offensive board for the second chance layup or playing some of the tireless defense he’s known to play every game. The fifth-year big man struggled at the beginning of the season to stay healthy, but the UConn veteran says that he is in the best shape all season and it’s allowed him to do much more for the Huskies going forward.
“It’s been a tough season, but my teammates have been getting me through it,” said Whaley.
His teammates certainly assisted in UConn’s victory, especially Whaley’s frontcourt partner, Adama Sanogo. The sophomore was again phenomenal for the Huskies as the Big East talent put on a show with 19 points, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks in the win. The Hoyas couldn’t find an answer for Sanogo as he attacked the paint with plenty of scoring opportunities.
While the Huskies were excellent on Tuesday, it was not all sunshine and rainbows for UConn. UConn allowed the Hoyas to shoot an incredible 52% from the three-point line as players like Kaiden Rice and freshman Aminu Mohammed pulled up from deep with ease as UConn defenders couldn’t seem to find an answer.
“We felt like we let them score too many points and get off too many threes early in the first half,” said guard Tyrese Martin. “That’s on us.”
Martin himself had an excellent second half for the Huskies as the senior added 12 points in just the second half along with a team-leading +30 +/-. The Huskies starter has played a large part in UConn’s second-half offense as the senior comes off a game against Butler where he scored 25 points in just the second half.
The Huskies additional guard play was too on display on Tuesday, but at this point, that doesn’t seem like much of a surprise to anyone. R.J. Cole added 14 points with plenty of finishes at the rim and a few threes to create separation from a Georgetown team that was just 11 points away from the Huskies when many expected a bigger blowout.
Cole and Martin were not the only big-time scorers in Tuesday’s matchup. The Huskies owe much of their three-point scoring to freshman sensation Jordan Hawkins, who added 15 points on 4-7 shooting from beyond the arch. The highlight of the freshman’s night came on a spectacular and-one three-point shot that had his team ecstatic.
“He’s that good of a shooter anytime he’s got time and space,” said Hurley.
UConn is ready to capitalize off its current set of opponents. The Huskies are healthy and ready for everything their opponents can throw at them. The team travels to Windy City to take on DePaul University in what looks like a revenge game for the Blue Demons after a double-digit loss to Villanova University.