Jordan Hawkins poured in 24 points and UConn never trailed while rolling to an easy 88-65 victory over Arkansas on Thursday in the Sweet 16 at Las Vegas.
Adama Sanogo recorded 18 points and eight rebounds for UConn (28-8), which is making its deepest NCAA Tournament run since winning the national title in 2014.
“It’s a great team. It’s a team that has been great pretty much the majority of the year,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “We can beat you with dominant centers; we can beat you with all-time great shooting guards. … We’re just a really great team.”
Alex Karaban had 11 points and seven rebounds and Nahiem Alleyne added 10 points as the fourth-seeded Huskies led by as many as 29 points in the West Region semifinal contest.
Anthony Black recorded 20 points and five steals and Ricky Council IV tallied 17 points for eighth-seeded Arkansas (22-14). Nick Smith Jr. added 11 for the Razorbacks, who were looking to reach the Elite Eight for the third straight year.
UConn will face either second-seeded UCLA or third-seeded Gonzaga in Saturday’s regional final. The Huskies have won 12 of their past 14 games.
The blowout was the first NCAA Tournament game ever held in Las Vegas.
The Huskies shot 57.4 percent from the field — including 9 of 20 from 3-point range — and controlled the boards with a 43-31 rebounding edge. UConn had a 42-24 edge in points in the paint while improving to 14-0 this season against teams not in its conference (Big East).
Arkansas shot just 31.7 percent from the field and went 5 of 16 from behind the arc. The Razorbacks had just seven assists to the Huskies’ 22.
UConn led by 17 at halftime and didn’t give the Razorbacks any chance to get back into the game by starting the second half with a 16-4 burst. Hawkins scored the final six to give the Huskies a 62-33 advantage with 15:44 remaining.
“I knew I had to step up my game coming to Las Vegas,” Hawkins said. “I had to play two halves, and that’s what I did.”
Black made a 3-pointer for Arkansas with 13:51 left in the game for his club’s first field goal in 8:09. The trey started a 10-0 run, but UConn countered with an 11-3 push with Hawkins draining two 3-pointers as the Huskies took a 73-46 lead with 10:29 remaining.
UConn had a 22-9 rebounding advantage in the first half while taking a 49-29 lead. Hawkins scored 10 points for the Huskies.
UConn’s lead was just three points after the Razorbacks’ Jordan Walsh made a jumper with 12:04 remaining in the half.
Twenty seconds later, Tristen Newton drained a 3-pointer to start a 14-0 surge. Sanogo capped it with a layup to make it 34-17 with 7:42 remaining.
Makhi Mitchell’s layup 19 seconds later ended an Arkansas scoring drought of 4:41.
The Razorbacks shot just 33.3 percent in the half while UConn made a sizzling 60.7 percent.
–Field Level Media