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Adama Sanogo, No. 25 UConn to face Buffalo

Sportsnaut
Mar 17, 2022; Buffalo, NY, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Tyrese Martin (4), forward Adama Sanogo (21), forward Tyler Polley (12) and forward Isaiah Whaley (5) after a play in the second half against the New Mexico State Aggies during the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

No. 25 UConn’s season-opening, five-game homestand will continue with Buffalo visiting Hartford on Tuesday night.

The Huskies (2-0) rolled past Massachusetts foes Stonehill and Boston University last week, winning the latter game 86-57 Friday in Storrs, Conn.

Junior forward Adama Sanogo has paced UConn in both games. The Big East Preseason Player of the Year logged 27 points and 15 rebounds last time out, recording his 11th career double-double and connecting on his first two career 3-pointers.

“(Sanogo) has spent a lot of time growing his game and being able to step away,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “Sometimes play at the nail or the 3-point line, either to face up or drive it. … He can get the ball at different parts of the court.”

Sanogo is averaging 23 points (on 20-of-26 shooting) and 10.5 rebounds through the two games, which the Huskies have won by an average of 30 points.

With starting big man Samson Johnson (foot) and guards Andre Jackson (finger) and Jordan Hawkins (concussion) all injured, Sanogo’s hot start has been even more crucial. Redshirt freshman forward Alex Karaban stepped up against Boston University, posting 10 points and four assists.

“Each game, the opponent is getting better for us,” Hurley said. “But if we can figure out just to win these games and grow the roles of (four) transfers and get them some confidence, and get Alex a ton of experience and confidence, when we do get healthy it could have put us in a position where we’re better for it.”

Jackson and Hawkins might return this week, but their status for Tuesday remains unknown. The Huskies also will host UNC Wilmington on Friday in Storrs.

On Monday, UConn returned to the AP Top 25 after finishing last season ranked 20th.

Also, Sanogo was named Big East Player of the Week and Karaban earned Freshman of the Week honors. Karaban averaged 11.5 points, 3.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds in the two wins.

UConn has won the past four games with Buffalo, and eight of nine all-time. The most recent meeting was a 79-68 Huskies win on Nov. 21, 2019, at the Charleston Classic.

After beating Patriot League favorite Colgate in their opener, the Bulls (1-1) fell 97-62 to an undefeated James Madison team that scored 100 points in its first two games.

Sophomore Curtis Jones led Buffalo with 13 points and six rebounds vs. James Madison, while the defense logged 16 steals.

Jones is one of nine newcomers on the roster, six of whom are transfers. The newness of the roster is not changing the expectations for coach Jim Whitesell, however.

“The schedule, people say, it’s a tough schedule, and we’ve always had a good, challenging nonconference schedule,” Whitesell said. “But you want to compete. Compete for championships and compete for postseason play, and I don’t think that’s changed in our minds at all.”

Buffalo was picked to finish sixth out of 12 teams in the Mid-American Conference.

–Field Level Media