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No. 2 UConn earns hard-fought win over Villanova

Dec 28, 2022; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies forward Adama Sanogo (21) defends against Villanova Wildcats forward Eric Dixon (43) during the first half at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Hawkins had 22 points and seven rebounds, Alex Karaban added 15 points and No. 2 Connecticut held off visiting Villanova, 74-66 on Wednesday in Hartford, Conn.

Andre Jackson Jr. also scored 10 for the undefeated Huskies (14-0, 3-0 Big East).

Caleb Daniels led Villanova with 23 points while Eric Dixon contributed 18 points and eight rebounds. Brandon Slater chipped in 10 points for the Wildcats (7-6, 1-1), who committed 18 turnovers and had their five-game winning streak snapped.

Dixon hit a short jumper with 10:24 left in the first half to cap an 8-0 run for a 12-10 Villanova lead.

Nahiem Alleyne responded with a difficult jump shot on UConn’s next possession to equalize. Hawkins soon after converted a four-point play for a 16-12 Huskies advantage.

The Wildcats tightened defensively and went ahead 19-18 when Slater drove to the basket and scored with 7:44 remaining.

Hawkins dropped in a 3-pointer to complete an 8-0 spurt for a 26-19 UConn advantage. Jackson made a trey from the wing with 3:01 to go but was whistled for a technical foul for taunting after the shot.

UConn led 33-32 at halftime thanks in large part to 16 points from Hawkins.

Villanova received 10 apiece from Dixon and Slater and stayed close despite shooting 1 of 8 from 3-point territory.

Dixon and Daniels each scored to open the second half and the Wildcats pulled out to a 36-33 advantage.

The Huskies took a 45-39 lead with 14:21 remaining following Karaban’s offensive rebound and tip-in. UConn extended its lead to 49-39, when Donovan Clingan scored in the low post.

Dixon came back with a trey to halt the Huskies’ momentum and Daniels’ layup with 7:05 left sliced the deficit to 55-49.

Hassan Diarra then drew the fourth foul on Daniels and converted two free throws with 6:09 to go.

Daniels produced a three-point play in the lane with 3:36 left to close within 58-56.

Adama Sanogo posted up and scored down low, Jackson Jr. added a 3-pointer from the corner and the Huskies led by seven.

–Field Level Media