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MENS BASKETBALL


Connecticut 85, DePaul 56

Connecticut 85, DePaul 56

BY PAT EATON-ROBB
ASSOCIATED PRESS

STORRS, Conn. - No. 4 UConn broke out of its conference doldrums with an 85-56 rout of DePaul.

Cam Spencer scored 20 points and Alex Karaban added 17 for the Huskies (12-2, 2-1 Big East). Hassan Diarra scored a season-high 14 and freshman Stephon Castle had 14 points and seven assists.

UConn shot 58.2% from the floor and made 12 of 26 shots from behind the arc (46.2%). Spencer was 4 of 7 from 3-point range.

“I think the (holiday) break helped us just reflect on what we needed to do individually and as a team,” Karaban said.

Da’Sean Nelson scored 19 points and Elijah Fisher had 17 for DePaul (3-10, 0-2). It was the Huskies’ 17th straight win over the Blue Demons.

UConn had struggled in its first two conference games this season, a 15-point loss at Seton Hall and a four-point comeback win over St. John’s at home on Dec. 23.

“Some guys, just, they heat up after Christmas,” coach Dan Hurley said. “I just think you have players who find their rhythm as the year goes by.”

The defending national champions started slowly in this one as well, with four early turnovers. They didn’t score until a layup by Castle more than four minutes into the game.

A layup by Jaden Henley gave the Blue Demons an 11-10 lead midway through the first half. But then UConn went on a 16-2 run, including a highlight-reel dunk from Castle on a long lob pass from Diarra.

The Huskies held DePaul to eight first-half baskets. A layup by Karaban capped a 9-1 spurt that sent UConn into halftime up 38-19.

“We took a couple bad shots, they got some transition baskets, we turned it over a couple times and they made us pay for it,” DePaul coach Tony Stubblefield said. “They are a very talented, well-coached team and when you make mistakes they can make you pay for it very quickly.”

DEFENSIVE INTENSITY

UConn held DePaul to 35.7% shooting (20 for 56) and the Blue Demons went just 2 of 13 from 3-point range. The Huskies also outrebounded DePaul 35-26. Hurley said that end of the floor has been an emphasis in recent practices.

“Our defense has got to take a major step up from here on out or else we will not be contenders in anything, we’ll be pretenders,” he said.

BIG PICTURE

DePaul: The Blue Demons were picked last in the Big East preseason coaches’ poll and haven’t done much to exceed those expectations.

UConn: Played its second game without 7-foot-2 center Donovan Clingan, who is recovering from a tendon injury in his right foot. Hurley said Clingan is out of a walking boot, but is expected to miss another two to three weeks. The sophomore is averaging 13.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.


January 2, 2024





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