No. 18 UConn earned a much-needed statement win on Wednesday night.
The Huskies won’t have to wait long to get a chance at authoring another one.
UConn will look for a split in the season series with St. John’s on Saturday afternoon when it visits the Red Storm for a clash of longtime Big East rivals at Madison Square Garden.
Both teams have been off since recording wins Wednesday. The Huskies got some revenge with an 87-69 victory against No. 20 Providence. The Red Storm frittered away a double-digit first-half lead before pulling away from Georgetown over the final six minutes of a 79-70 victory.
Defeating Providence gave the Huskies (21-7, 10-7) their third rematch win against teams that defeated them during a 2-6 skid from Dec. 31 through Jan. 25. UConn also settled scores with Marquette and Seton Hall.
The Huskies get their last chance at some in-season revenge at St. John’s, which earned an 85-74 win in Hartford on Jan. 15. The only team to sweep UConn this season so far is Xavier.
On Wednesday, UConn out-rebounded Providence 38-19. That marked the most rebounds surrendered and the fewest boards collected this season by the Friars.
The effort by the Huskies exceeded the expectations of coach Dan Hurley, who said he was “embarrassed” by the team’s toughness, or lack thereof, in the Jan. 4 loss at Providence.
“I was hoping for plus-5 vs. those guys on the boards,” Hurley said. “They’re men. Ed (Cooley’s) teams, in terms of identity, are hard to beat plus on the backboard.”
Adama Sanogo continues to lead UConn with 16.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, with Jordan Hawkins adding 16.5 points per contest.
Meanwhile, Wednesday’s win over the Hoyas continued a trend for St. John’s (17-12, 7-11).
The Red Storm are 5-1 against the teams below them — Butler, DePaul and last-place Georgetown — but just 2-10 against everyone else in the league. Seven of those 10 losses have been by double digits.
The victory over Georgetown came with plenty of anxious moments for St. John’s, which led by 15 in the first half and held a trio of double-digit leads in the second half before the Hoyas tied the score three times.
AJ Storr hit the decisive 3-pointer, putting St. John’s ahead for good at 70-67 with 5:27 left. Georgetown’s Brandon Murray missed a potential game-tying shot with 1:46 left and a steal by David Jones 34 seconds later sparked a game-ending 7-0 run by the Red Storm.
“It was a game of runs,” St. John’s coach Mike Anderson said. “We got off to a pretty good start but Georgetown, like they have all year, fought and got back in it. I thought we had a lot of composure when adversity took place. We started attacking the basket and making free throws. Our defense stood up.”
Joel Soriano leads the Red Storm with 15.4 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. David Jones adds 12.9 points per game.
–Field Level Media