Coming into Saturday night’s contest, Butler head coach Thad Matta boasted a 19-1 record at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. That reputation wasn’t upheld against the then-No. 3 UConn men’s basketball team, as Connecticut cruised to an NCAA-best 12th win of the season by a score of 68-46.
Amidst a loud Hinkle Fieldhouse, the Huskies had a bit of a cold streak to start the game, allowing the Bulldogs to jump out to an 8-2 lead largely in part to a couple of Simas Lukosius threes. After Lukosius’ second three, Andre Jackson answered with one of his own to silence the Butler crowd. Add in an offensive foul drawn by Tristen Newton on defense and an Adama Sanogo bucket, and it quickly became a one-point game.
UConn started to break away from Butler late in the first half, climbing to as much as a nine-point lead over the home team. Connecticut got a big boost heading into the break thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from transfer guard Nahiem Alleyne.
Despite shooting at a poor 30 percent clip in the first half, the Huskies more than made up for it with their offensive rebounding, giving themselves extra opportunities to hit their shots. By the break, Connecticut had grabbed 14 offensive rebounds to the Bulldogs’ 15 total rebounds and earned 10 second-chance points.
The second half was very much back-and-forth, Big East branded play, until the Bulldogs went on a quick 6-0 run to get within four points with less than 10 minutes to go. With the Hinkle crowd loud and back into the game, UConn came out of their timeout with a Sanogo three to give themselves a little more breathing room.
After that timeout, it really became the Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins show, as the duo combined to score 19 of the team’s final 22 points. The Huskies turned their play up a notch, with their stars finding the basket with ease and the team putting up suffocating defense. Over the final 9:42, Connecticut went on a 22-7 run, not allowing a single point over the last 3:21 of play to turn what could have been a competitive finish into a blowout road victory.
The night turned out to be a complete showcase of 2022-2023 Connecticut basketball. The Huskies outrebounded the Bulldogs 54-30, maintaining their high rebounding margin. UConn assisted on 20 of their 28 made shots, and the team currently sits top-15 in the nation in assists per field goals made. While the team didn’t utilize its depth as much as they have in past games, the Huskies didn’t really need to, as Sanogo was able to take over on the offensive end down the stretch. Bench guys like Joey Calcaterra and Donovan Clingan did exactly what was asked, keeping the game within reach while Hawkins and Sanogo got their breathers.
The player of the match was, to little surprise, Big East Preseason Player of the Year Sanogo. The big man finished with 27 points on 13-for-21 shooting and 14 rebounds, including seven offensive. While it wasn’t a seamless performance, Sanogo played to his ability against a tough individual matchup with Butler center Manny Bates.
The other Connecticut captain, Jackson, had a signature performance as well, flying around the court and making impacts on both ends. He ended his night with just three points, but added six rebounds, six assists and an athletic chasedown block. The junior guard continues to be a critical glue guy for this squad.
Hawkins had a solid night, as the high-volume shooter finished with 12 points on 5-for-13 shooting with three rebounds. The majority of his impact came down that final stretch, where he added seven key points to help put the game away.
This game marked the sixth all-time visit between Butler and UConn, with the Huskies finding themselves as top dogs in each matchup.
With the win and a Virginia loss, the Huskies were bumped up from No. 3 to No. 2 in the nation in the latest AP Poll. The team is the only one in the nation with every contest ending in a double digit win, and they look to continue that streak on Tuesday in a matchup with Georgetown. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion and will be broadcast live on FS1.