STORRS, Conn. (AP)UConn’s outside shots weren’t falling on Saturday, so the Huskies went to the rim.
Jordan Hawkins scored 20 points, despite going 3 for 11 from behind the arc, and No. 20 UConn used seven dunks and a big second-half run to beat Seton Hall 64-55 on Saturday.
Andre Jackson had a career high 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for UConn (20-7, 9-7 Big East), which has won four of their last five games after losing five of their previous seven.
”It kind of felt like how we were at the beginning of the season,” Jackson said, referring to the team’s 14-0 start. ”Just playing off one another, playing in transition, getting stops and pushing the pace. It was a lot of fun. I think we played with a lot of joy.”
Al-Amir Dawes and Tyrese Samuel each had 16 points for Seton Hall (16-12, 9-8), which trailed by 16 points with six minutes to play, before a late run that fell short.
”We’ve lost these types of ugly, kind of mud-fight type of games, physical, choppy types of games,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. ”We knew we had a team coming in here that was kind of in that bubble range and we knew we’d get a great effort from them. So, I’m thrilled to win.”
UConn led by six points at halftime and just 36-34 after a 7-0 Seton Hall run early in the second half. The Pirates kept the Huskies without a field goal for a span of almost nine minutes, stretching back into the first half.
But UConn responded by holding Seton Hall without a point for over 6 1/2minutes. A 3-pointer from Hawkins that capped a 14-0 run put the Huskies up 56-40.
Seton Hall made a run to cut the lead to six points twice, but could get no closer.
UConn led the game for all but two minutes and that came early in the first half.
A driving dunk by Hawkins gave the Huskies their first double-digit lead at 30-19. But UConn missed its final eight shots of the half.
Seton Hall’s Kadary Richmond, who scored 18 points in the Pirates January win over the Huskies, left the game early in the first half with an apparent back injury.
Seton Hall declined to make its players or coach Shaheen Holloway available to the media after the game. But Holloway, in his post-game radio interview on Learfield, said the injury did have an impact on his team’s performance.
”I thought once we got our rhythm back in the second half, it kind of helped us, but I thought the first half, once Kadary went down, our rhythm, it just wasn’t there,” he said.
KC Ndefo kept Seton Hall in the game, scoring all 13 of his points in the first half, while hitting five of his first six shots. But he took just three shots in the second half, missing all of them.
Fifty-two of UConn’s points came from two-point range or the foul line (16 of 22). The Huskies were 4 of 22 from 3-point range. Seton Hall had just two 3-point baskets on 11 attempts.
UConn: The Huskies jumped a half-game ahead of Seton Hall and into fifth place in the Big East standings. The top five teams in the league will get byes into the the quarterfinals of the conference tournament next month. … The Huskies secured their second straight 20-win season after a five-year drought.
”I think we’re in a good spot to create the momentum in the last four (games),” UConn coach Dan Hurley said.
Seton Hall: The Pirates, who beat UConn 67-66 in New Jersey last month, have not swept a season series from UConn since 1992-93. Seton Hall will have a hard time cracking the top-tier of the conference. The Pirates have a week off before ending the regular season with games against No. 16 Xavier, No. 24 Providence and Villanova.
Seton Hall: Hosts No. 16 Xavier on Friday.
UConn: Hosts No. 24 Providence on Wednesday.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25