NCAAB: No. 5 UConn faces LIU in final tuneup for conference play
No. 5 UConn will return home to conclude its nonconference schedule against Long Island on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskies, who are 10-0 for the first time since their 2010-11 national championship season, entertain the Northeast Conference opponent for the second straight season after acing their first true road test in Wednesday’s 75-54 win at Florida.
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Before cruising past the Gators, Dan Hurley’s team racked up six home wins and three on a neutral floor at the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Ore.
Incredible depth has helped UConn win every game by double digits. Two-time Big East Player of the Week Adama Sanogo (18.5), Jordan Hawkins (13.5) and Tristen Newton (10.8) all average 10 points per game, but three others have added at least nine apiece.
“The depth, that’s the key to who we are,” Hurley said. “We could play any type of game because of the depth — a slow-down game, an up-tempo game, we could play big, we could play small. The depth is what makes this whole thing work and play into our identity.”
At Florida, Sanogo posted a game-high 17 points and seven rebounds and star freshman Donovan Clingan scored 16 and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Huskies, who never looked back after building a 15-point advantage midway through the second half.
UConn shot 51.7 percent (including 61 percent in the second half), held the Gators to 30.2 percent and had a 42-28 rebounding edge.
Wednesday marked UConn’s first road game, but it did not always feel like that. Huskies chants filled the Gainesville, Fla., arena following another comfortable victory, making it feel like a neutral crowd that they faced in Oregon.
“When you get the program to where we’ve got it right now, we travel, the fans travel and it’s one of the best brands,” Hurley said.
No matter the site, the Huskies have held serve this season.
“You just create a bubble around you and your travel party. You block everything else out,” Hurley said. “As long as we were poised and played to our identity, executed and were together and tough, everything would take care of itself.”
Next up is one final chance to prepare for Big East play. The Huskies open the conference season at Butler following a week-long break.
UConn beat LIU 93-40 on Nov. 17, 2021. Andre Jackson Jr. scored a career-high 14 points.
Led by first-year coach and former All-NBA point guard Rod Strickland, the Sharks (1-7) are winless against Division I opponents. They are 0-6 since a Nov. 14 win over Division III Mount St. Vincent, a fellow New York City school.
With six returnees and eight newcomers on a roster that lost four key scorers after Strickland’s hiring, LIU was picked eighth in the nine-team circuit’s preseason poll.
“We’re going to try and raise the bar each day and continue to grow and attempt to win the conference, which is our ultimate goal,” Strickland said.
LIU, which has been outscored by 13.6 points per game, opened at Utah and also played the Big East’s Marquette and St. John’s in November.
Jacob Johnson had a team-high 18 points and nine rebounds in Monday’s 84-64 loss to UMass Lowell.
Marko Maletic paces LIU with 14.9 points per game, including seven double-figure scoring games. He was the conference’s sixth-leading scorer entering Thursday.
–Field Level Media
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