Men’s Basketball: Karaban, No. 24 Huskies outlast Hoyas in D.C. 


We’ve seen this story before.  

After leading for the majority of the contest, the UConn men’s basketball team relinquished their advantage late into the second half, giving the Georgetown Hoyas a lead on their home court – very reminiscent of the late-game collapse the Huskies suffered at Seton Hall just four games prior. UConn would lose that matchup in the final seconds. 

On Saturday afternoon, it was the same story with a different ending, as the Huskies were able to pull away with a big 68-62 win on the road. 

Despite the KenPom ratings putting more than 200 Division I programs between Connecticut and Georgetown, the Hoyas remained close the whole game. After the Huskies took an eight-point lead with eight to play in the first half, the script completely flipped. UConn couldn’t seem to find the basket on even the closest of shots, making one of its last 10 field goals. By the break, the score was all knotted up at 31 apiece. 

The second half kicked off in a similar fashion, with Connecticut working its way up to another eight-point lead before Georgetown came roaring back, taking the lead with less than five minutes to go thanks to an 11-2 run. It was Georgetown’s first time with the lead since the score was 7-5.  

Thankfully for the Huskies, they kept their composure and stuck it out. Freshman Alex Karaban made two massive 3-pointers in the final minutes, regaining the lead and putting the nail in the coffin for Connecticut. It was a tale of two halves for the forward, who scored all of his 11 points in the second. He finished his afternoon on 4-for-10 shooting alongside four rebounds and four assists. 

Fellow forward and Big East Preseason Player of the Year Adama Sanogo had a solid day as well, collecting 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting and six rebounds. 

The biggest difference down the stretch for UConn was its tenacity on the boards. The Huskies cashed in 23 second-chance points, including one of Karaban’s big 3-pointers. On the other end, Georgetown was only able to score eight such points. 

Transfer guard Tristen Newton continued his successful stretch of games in this contest, finishing with 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting alongside eight rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block. Newton was everywhere on Saturday and really made his presence felt, particularly early in the contest. He’s certainly stepped up in the second half of the season and looks to be a key contributor to this offense moving forward. 

It was a big redemption game for Husky guard Andre Jackson, who has suffered from a confidence issue for the past few games. Teams have started to allow Jackson, who lays claim to one of the team’s lowest shooting percentages this season, to shoot unguarded. Even on Saturday, the Georgetown coaches yelled out “Let him shoot” when Jackson carried the ball.  

The team captain didn’t let it phase him, and started out distributing more than shooting. The shots soon followed, including a make on his lone 3-point attempt. By the end of the day, the guard walked away with a solid stat line: seven points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. While he’s not out of the water yet, this was a step in the right direction for the junior to find his footing. 

It seems like head coach Dan Hurley’s defensive game plan was to lock down star guard Primo Spears, as the Huskies limited the transfer student to zero points on 0-for-1 shooting in 37 minutes. Spears entered Saturday’s contest scoring the second-most points per game in the Big East with 16.8. 

For all of the good defensive work UConn put in on Spears, the team had few answers for Georgetown guard Brandon Murray. Before he fouled out, Murray had 21 points on 8-for-18 shooting and two assists. 

Overall, both teams shot well. While the Huskies should be content with shooting 42.2 percent on the road and 50.0 percent from 3-point range, allowing a lackluster Georgetown squad to shoot 43.4 percent from the floor kept the Hoyas in the contest. For a team that prides themselves on their defensive prowess, Connecticut needs to tighten up before facing one of the top offenses in college basketball in the Marquette Golden Eagles on Tuesday. 

With the win, the Huskies improve to 18-6 and 7-6 in Big East play. Another tough test is upon them, when they take on Shaka Smart’s Golden Eagles at the XL Center on Tuesday, Feb. 7. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on FS1. 

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