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No. 4 UConn heads to Butler focused on depth, momentum

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No. 4 UConn kicked off the New Year in blowout fashion and travels to Indianapolis on Friday to take on the Butler Bulldogs in a Big East Conference game.

The Huskies (12-2, 2-1) dominated visiting DePaul 85-56 on Tuesday night for their second victory in a row and their fifth win in the past six games.

Cam Spencer led UConn with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. Alex Karaban added 17 points and seven rebounds while Stephon Castle and Hassan Diarra each scored 14 points.

“Overall, thought the defense made some strides today. Thought we were more disruptive,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “Obviously liked the way we shared the ball, 23 assists.”

Hurley is focused on the depth of his squad, which currently is without star center Donovan Clingan due to a right foot injury.

“The strength of the team is the collective,” Hurley said. “Not too many teams in the country who have four guys who can go get 14, 15, 20, 22 (points) on any given night.”

The Bulldogs (10-4, 1-2), who have lost two games in a row, most recently played on Tuesday as well, falling 86-70 on the road to St. John’s.

DJ Davis carried the load for Butler, scoring 25 points. Posh Alexander, in his return to St. John’s after transferring to Butler from there, added 11 points, five assists and six rebounds.

Tensions boiled over in the Butler loss as coach Thad Matta was ejected from the game with just 2:30 to play, receiving two technical fouls for arguing with a referee.

“I don’t condone the behavior I had, but I will fight for them (his team),” Matta said. “I felt like we were at a disadvantage, and it hurt our game prep.”

Pierre Brooks II leads Butler in scoring with an average of 16.4 points per game. Alexander leads with 5.1 assists and 2.0 steals per contest while Jalen Thomas tops the team with averages of 6.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.

The Huskies are led by Spencer with 15.2 points per game, followed closely by Tristen Newton (15) and Karaban (14.4). Newton also leads the team with 6.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game.

On the injury front, outside of Clingan, the Huskies are full-go. Butler, meanwhile, will be without Connor Turnbull, who is out indefinitely with an elbow injury.

It projects to be a high-scoring battle on Friday as Butler and UConn are among the Big East leaders in scoring offense.

Since 2011, UConn is 7-0 against Butler, with the most recent matchup being an 86-56 rout last January. Of those seven wins, the closest margin has been 12 points, in 2021.

After Friday’s game, UConn will travel to Xavier while Butler will visit Marquette next Wednesday night.

–Field Level Media

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