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No. 6 UConn tries to avoid sliding in Big East, visits No. 25 Marquette

Jan 7, 2023; Storrs, Connecticut, USA; UConn Huskies head coach Dan Hurley talks to his players from the sideline as they take on the Creighton Bluejays at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Sixth-ranked UConn needs a U-turn.

Two recent losses threaten to clog the Big East race. The Huskies visit No. 25 Marquette in Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

UConn (15-2, 4-2 Big East) held off Creighton 69-60 at home on Saturday after back-to-back conference losses on the road to No. 12 Xavier and 19th-ranked Providence.

Marquette (13-4, 5-1) has won four straight since a 103-98 loss in overtime at Providence to move back into the national rankings. The Golden Eagles pulled away in the second half for a 95-73 victory over Georgetown on Saturday.

A stumble at Marquette could leave the Huskies three games back in the conference race.

UConn led Creighton 37-29 at the break. The Bluejays rallied to claim a 43-42 lead with 14 minutes remaining. The Huskies responded with a 14-2 run to break the losing streak.

“I think the last two games really helped us,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “We played a 14-game joyride season and played in two of the toughest places to play in college against two really good teams. The adversity from those games, the lessons learned, helped us when the game got tight.”

Adama Sanogo leads the Huskies, averaging 17.9 points and 6.9 rebounds while shooting 59.4 percent from the field. Jordan Hawkins adds 14.8 points per game, while Donovan Clingan and Andre Jackson Jr. each average six-plus rebounds as the Huskies outrebound opponents by seven boards per contest.

The Huskies are fifth in the nation in scoring margin, outscoring opponents by 18.8 points per game. UConn also has been deadly from long range, hitting 161 3-pointers to just 66 for opponents. Hawkins is 44 of 112 beyond the arc.

Marquette, picked to finish ninth in the Big East preseason poll, has not been fazed by ranked opponents. Two of its losses were a five-point setback at Purdue and an 80-77 overtime loss to Wisconsin.

In late November, then sixth-ranked Baylor rolled into Milwaukee and was routed 96-70 by the Golden Eagles.

“There’s a level of respect that goes into winning regardless of the opponent that you have to bring in order to win a game like today,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said after the Georgetown game. “Then, when you go into a game like Wednesday where you know a team is going to test you in a variety of different ways, that respect needs to be even more heightened.

“But, along with that, there needs to be a level of confidence that, ‘Hey, we can do it.’ So, that’s a double-edged sword.”

Marquette averages 83.1 points per game with four players scoring in double figures. Kam Jones leads the Golden Eagles with 16.1 points per game, followed by Olivier-Maxence Prosper at 14.5 and Oso Ighodaro at 11.5 to go along with a team-best 6.5 boards per game. David Joplin rounds out the bunch with 10.2 points per game off the bench.

Tyler Kolek, who had a career-high 15 assists against Georgetown, leads the Big East in assists and is third in Division I with 8.0 per game.

UConn has won the last four meetings with Marquette, including a pair of eight-point victories last season.

–Field Level Media

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