Adama Sanogo and No. 19 UConn will attempt to climb back to the .500 mark in Big East play when they travel to Chicago on Tuesday night to face DePaul.
A slow start plagued the Huskies (16-6, 5-6 Big East) in their last game, an 82-79 home loss to Xavier on Wednesday. The Musketeers scored the game’s first nine points and built a 39-24 halftime lead. UConn came up short despite battling back and pulling within one point several times in the second half.
Sanogo, who leads the Big East in scoring (16.9 points per game), was held to 11 points in that loss, but the Huskies received 28 points from Jordan Hawkins and 23 from Tristen Newton. Hawkins scored 26 points in the second half.
“A really disappointing loss,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “We became unhinged with that offensive start in the first five minutes. We did some things that we really didn’t want to do offensively. That had a real negative effect on defense. Just a really, really tough loss for us to absorb.”
Xavier, ranked No. 13 at the time of the game, shot 53.4 percent overall and 10-for-20 from 3-point distance.
“Defensively, we were soft,” Hurley said. “It’s rare for me to have to get away from man defense almost entirely because their guards were getting anywhere they wanted on the court. The entire perimeter was that bad defensively. If we can’t get our man defense fixed — teams that are exclusively playing zone are not doing well.”
DePaul (9-13, 3-8) will be attempting to end a losing streak that reached three games when the Blue Demons dropped an 89-69 decision to Marquette on Saturday.
Umoja Gibson led DePaul in the loss with 25 points. He made five of his seven 3-point attempts and scored 18 points in the second half.
Gibson is averaging a team-high 16.2 points per game, which places him sixth in scoring among Big East players.
“Mo can score the basketball, but that’s a lot of pressure to put on him game in and game out,” DePaul coach Tony Stubblefield said. “We’ve got to have other guys step up as well from an offensive standpoint.
“I thought we played solid for the first 20 minutes and not very good the last 20 minutes of that game. To beat a team like that, you got to be able to put a full 40 minutes together and you got to be able to do it on the defensive end and on the glass. Those are two areas where we didn’t get it done.”
UConn is ranked third out of 11 Big East teams in scoring offense (79.3 ppg) and second in scoring defense (64.4 ppg). DePaul is eighth in the conference in offense (71.5 ppg) and ninth in defense (75.5 ppg). The Blue Demons also rank last in the conference in field goal percentage (42.3 percent) and 10th in field goal defense (45.1 percent).
–Field Level Media