Men’s Basketball: No. 8 Huskies look to extend unbeaten streak against Cowboys 

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UConn mens basketball captures a dominating 86-57 win against Boston University following a Friday night matchup at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. on Nov. 11, 2022. The Huskies’ Adama Sanogo scored 27 points, while five of his teammeates got onto the scoreboard with double figures. Photo by Sofia Sawchuk / The Daily Campus.

Fresh off of a Phil Knight Invitational victory and a top 10 ranking in the AP Poll for the first time since 2012, the No. 8 UConn men’s basketball team returns home Thursday to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys as part of the Big East-Big 12 Battle. 

The Huskies (8-0) have enjoyed a start to the season that is nothing short of incredible, as they are the only remaining team in Division I to win every game this year by a margin of 15 points or more. This includes big wins last week against NCAA-caliber opponents Oregon, now-No. 11 Alabama, and Iowa State. The utter dominance this squad has shown may not be fully sustainable, but it will look to continue this undefeated start on Thursday. 

One of the biggest keys to Connecticut’s early-season successes is its depth. While opening night starter Samson Johnson still nurses a foot injury, UConn has no issue earning victories, even with the occasional off nights from key guard Jordan Hawkins and Preseason Big East Player of the Year Adama Sanogo.  

A crucial piece for the Huskies so far has been freshman center Donovan Clingan, the MVP of the Phil Knight Invitational. While showcasing all of his 7-foot-2 build against smaller competition, the Bristol native was on another level in Portland; Clingan averaged 7.7 rebounds per game while adding five blocks and two steals. His best performance was in the championship against Iowa State, where he put up 15 points. For his efforts last week, the Big East awarded him with Freshman of the Week honors. 

Connecticut may have lost key guards R.J. Cole and Tyrese Martin to the professional ranks, but they’ve seemingly added a new scoring guard in East Carolina transfer Tristen Newton. Fresh off of his triple-double performance a few weeks ago, Newton averaged 15 points, 5.7 assists and four rebounds at the PKI, earning him a spot on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll. The guard seems to have found his footing in Storrs and will look to continue his hot stretch against the Cowboys. 

Oklahoma State (5-2) has had an interesting start to the season, dropping two close games to top 100 teams Southern Illinois and UCF while not earning a true resume-building win to this point. This proves to be their first test. The KenPom ratings have the Cowboys at No. 34 in the country, and they will try to topple a top 10 team for the first time since beating then-No. 1 Baylor on the road back in January. 

Leading the Cowboys so far this year has been senior guard Avery Anderson III. The Preseason All-Big 12 Team member has impressed for Oklahoma State, having added 12.7 points and 3.3 assists per game. Anderson recently scored a team-high 16 points on 4-for-8 shooting in the team’s win over Prairie View A&M. 

Moussa Cisse and Bryce Thompson have also contributed for Oklahoma State, as they are averaging 10 and 11 points per contest, respectively. Like UConn, the Cowboys like to spread the ball around, so expect lots of shots from a variety of guys in this exciting matchup. 

The two programs have little experience playing each other, as they have squared off just twice in their long histories, with Oklahoma State taking both. The last game came at the 2016 Maui Invitational, when the Huskies fell to the Cowboys in a 98-90 shootout. In that game, UConn guard Jalen Adams had a very mixed performance, as he put up 32 points on 12-for-18 shooting but committed 10 turnovers. 

Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs. The game will be broadcast live on FS1. 

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