Men’s Basketball: No. 18 UConn takes over NYC in win over St. John’s 

MBB vs St Johns at MSG by Sofia Sawchuk, Associate Photo Editor UConn men’s basketball defeat St. Johns 95-86 at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023. The victory adds on to the Huskies’ streak of three straight wins, while also being UConn’s highest scoring game among their Big East matchups this regular season.

Insanity and nothing less went down on a chilly Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. For No. 18 UConn men’s basketball, it was their first chance of the year to play on the legendary court before some intense battles at the Big East Tournament.  

While you certainly can expect an NBA-like environment at the Garden, what players like Tristen Newton and Joey Calcaterra couldn’t have expected to happen was the level of reception they’d get despite it being an away game. 

“It is Storrs South, as they say,” remarked Calcaterra. 

The transfer guard certainly had reason for that comment. Thousands of Husky fans flocked from Connecticut to the bright lights of New York to watch their team take on the Red Storm and show support. Some took the train, while Husky fans from New York took the opportunity to see their team nearby.  

Sights like the St. John’s jumbotron displaying UConn fans instead of their own fans and Husky fans booing a Red Storm fan that was participating in a halfcourt shot contest were just some of the peculiar things that went down on Saturday. When lineups for the Johnnies were announced, it felt pretty uncharacteristic to hear resounding boos in an away arena that totaled 12,241 in attendance that afternoon. At least, it would be if it weren’t being played at the Garden. 

But Calcaterra was certainly one of the many UConn players to feed off the incredible environment that favored UConn. It didn’t take long for him to get going once coach Dan Hurley sent the upperclassmen into the game. In 17 minutes off the bench, Joey California may have been as scorching as his popular nickname. He’d end the night with 15 points, including three 3-point shots that helped keep the Huskies firing on all cylinders despite the Red Storm looking to get back into it.  

Coach Mike Anderson and the Johnnies really wanted this one, especially with the Big East Tournament coming up and with it being Senior Day for the Red Storm’s upperclassmen. That showed in the attitude on the court with guard Posh Alexander telling his matchup that they were “too small” when guarding him. Anderson himself would pick up a technical foul in a game that totaled four of them, a moment that really showed the complete effect of UConn fans that night. It became even more of a shame that they’d not only lose in a big way, but their top performing senior, Joel Soriano, would foul out with 12 points and 11 rebounds on a special day. That’s certainly a tough way to end the afternoon on Senior Day. 

It was truly a gritty game from both crowds. When junior Adama Sanogo was on the court for the Huskies, a Red Storm fan chanted the words “G-League” to get into the UConn big man’s head. But, as he’d done many times before, Sanogo would shrug it off and continue to help his team get the win. After the game, a contest in which he’d put up 18 points and nine rebounds, Sanogo would fire back with an incredible yet simple response. 

“That’s cool. They lost,” said Sanogo. 

Both of UConn’s big men, which included freshman Donovan Clingan, would put in major work for the Huskies in the win. Clingan would end with nine points and a preposterous five blocks in 14 minutes on the court as UConn’s freshman center looked pretty unstoppable in the paint, especially on the defensive end. 

Of course, Jordan Hawkins was once again firing on all cylinders on the offensive end. While he was a key contributor with 20 points on 40% shooting from beyond the arc, the more interesting part of his stat line came with his defensive stats, where he’d add three steals and a block. On a court where some NBA mock drafts have him playing his professional home games next year, the young UConn shooting guard added another chapter to his legacy at the legendary school. 

But the story of the game came from Andre Jackson, a player who was battling an illness prior to Saturday’s game and was a gametime decision, per coach Hurley. Yet, when it came time to play, Jackson walked onto the court and played some great basketball considering the circumstances. His night totaled 15 points and his stat line showed an all-around effect across the court, one of the key ways he affects this UConn team in a positive way. While he would make some mistakes as he’d add three turnovers to his stat line, his contribution was nonetheless very key for the Huskies in their win. 

Overall, the outcome was positive for both fans and players alike. Stories were created for fans with some flocking over a hundred miles to watch their team play and some taking a short trip to cheer on their team. You could say it was the ideal UConn basketball experience.

Leave a Reply