The cold conditions of the Windy City couldn’t faze the UConn Huskies, especially Jordan Hawkins.
Big-time shots and acrobatic layups were just some of the ways to describe a fiery Hawkins as he helped lead the Huskies over the DePaul Blue Demons, a team that has looked strong as of late against Big East opponents. Wins against no. 16 Xavier and Villanova made Tuesday’s evening matchup look incredibly competitive before tipoff but for the Huskies, it looked dominating. A 26-point outing from the UConn guard, capped off by an energizing dunk, was a big part of UConn’s incredible road win.
Joined by Tristen Newton’s breakout 21-point outing and Adama Sanogo’s 25-point performance, UConn truly let it rain on offense and it resulted in a 90-76 win despite shooting just 25% from beyond the arc. Instead, UConn played aggressive basketball in the paint as they fed Sanogo and took advantage of their size advantage. While players like center Donovan Clingan didn’t have a dominant offensive night, a stat line that included 9 rebounds and 3 blocks showed his impact on the game in other factors.
The tide truly changed for the Huskies midway through the first quarter where Hawkins got to the stripe for plenty of opportunities. In less than a minute of action, the UConn sophomore got to the line for five shots at the line and drained them all, getting the Huskies out to a more comfortable lead. Combined with some aggressive offense from Newton and Hawkins, the UConn lead climbed to double digits and going into halftime, UConn was up 46-31.
But, if UConn learned anything from their road game against the Seton Hall Pirates in which the team lost after going into the half up 40-26, no lead is safe in the Big East and that attitude showed in the second half. A chase-down block and continued offensive domination from Hawkins demonstrated that attitude on both sides of the court for UConn. They weren’t going to let this game slip by them.
While DePaul was certainly down by plenty, they weren’t going to give this one to the Huskies that easily. The biggest player to step up for the Blue Demons was Javan Johnson, who dropped 19 as the team looked to climb out of a hard deficit. While Johnson’s efforts did help the team net an impressive 10-0 run to cut it to single digits, the Huskies stuck in the game and pushed forward just as they did in the first half. The offensive output of Hawkins, Newton and Sanogo proved too much for the Blue Demons at home.
Specifically, one of the biggest keys to the game were the Huskies getting to the free throw stripe and converting. With 34 attempts at the line including 14 from Hawkins alone, the team shot an efficient 88.2% as the Blue Demons couldn’t seem to stop the Huskies from plenty of foul calls.
Now, UConn will need to bring that same energy to Capital One Arena for a matchup with the Georgetown Hoyas, a team that gave the Huskies some problems at Gampel Pavillion earlier this season. Most importantly, they’ll have the opportunity to string together some nice wins in Big East play before an important matchup of the season against a ranked opponent, the Marquette Golden Eagles.