AP Photo/Jessica Hill
The No. 21 UConn men’s basketball team made a statement Tuesday with a 71-69 upset-win over No. 8 Villanova at home.
Adama Sanogo led the way with 20 points as the Huskies improved to 20-7 and 11-5 in the Big East. R.J. Cole added 12 points and made the go-head layup with 5.9 seconds left in the second half. He also drew a charge on Villanova’s ensuing possession to seal the victory. The Wildcats fell to 21-7 and 14-4.
This was UConn’s first win over Villanova since the 2014 NCAA tournament, ending a five-game losing streak. The two teams didn’t face each other again until 2018 when UConn rejoined the Big East from the American Athletic Conference.
Tuesday’s contest was a back-and-forth game with 18 lead changes. UConn faced a four-point deficit in the final minute before Tyler Polley nailed a three-pointer and Cole pushed them ahead for good.
The Wildcats were led by Collin Gillespie’s 17 points, but he had two crucial turnovers down the stretch, including the offensive foul on Cole. Three other players scored in double figures for Villanova.
UConn overcame the absence of head coach Dan Hurley, who was ejected in the first half of the game after picking up two technical fouls. The second technical was assessed quickly after the first one, apparently because Hurley was hyping up the home crowd.
Associate head coach Kimani Young took over the head coaching duties and received praise for his performance on the bench:
Jon Rothstein @JonRothstein
Kimani Young put on a tactical show down the stretch.
Used his timeouts flawlessly and crafted multiple perfect possessions in a row.
He also had the demeanor and confidence of someone who was more than ready to be a head coach. https://t.co/gqAFJNG38V
It’s the Huskies’ first 20-win season since 2015-16, and the team has now won four consecutive games. UConn will enjoy a few days off before returning to action Sunday against Georgetown.