STORRS, Conn. (AP)With a rowdy crowd behind them on $2 beer night, No. 18 UConn used a big second half to beat No. 20 Providence on Wednesday night.
Jordan Hawkins scored 20 points to lead Connecticut to the 87-69 win and a split of the regular-season series between the New England rivals.
Adama Sanogo and Alex Karaban each added 16 points for the Huskies (21-7, 10-7 Big East), who won for the fifth time in their last six games.
Tristen Newton had 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
It was the third time this month the Huskies have avenged a road loss in the Big East with a home win, something Hawkins referred to as his team’s ”revenge tour.”
”Things can start to unravel kind of quickly if you’re going into these top-5 teams on the road,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. ”It’s hard to win a game. And it would have been hard for anyone to come in with this type of crowd today.”
Bryce Hopkins scored 16 points and Jared Bynum had 14 for the Friars (20-8, 12-5), who fell two games behind Marquette in the race for the Big East’s regular-season title.
UConn led by just five at halftime, but outscored Providence 50-37 in the second half.
”The fans were unbelievable,” Karaban said. ”They really lifted us up when Providence came storming back in the second half. So, they really gave us momentum to go on that run. Two-dollar beer night was a good one I guess.”
UConn scored the final five points of the first half and Hawkins had the first five points of the second to turn a tie game into a 10-point lead at 42-32.
Providence responded a short time later with a 7-0 run to cut the lead to two points.
But the Huskies held the Friars without a basket for more than five minutes and built the lead to 17 with a 14-0 run and extended that to as many as 22 points.
The Huskies dominated the paint, outscoring the Friars 42-24 down low and outrebounding Providence 40-20.
”It was men against boys in the second half,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. ”I thought their physicality and the environment here was big time.”
This was the first time in the 77-game history of the rivalry that both teams were ranked when they faced each other.
UConn is now 46-31 all-time against Friars, but had lost three of the previous four meetings, including a 73-61 setback in Rhode Island on Jan. 4.
Providence: The Friars, trying to repeat as regular-season conference champions, dropped into a tie with Xavier and Creighton for second place in the conference standings.
UConn: The Huskies extended their lead to a game over Seton Hall for fifth place in the league. The top five teams in the conference standings will earn a bye in the first round of the conference tournament.
Karaban heard a lot of criticism about his defense after Hopkins scored 27 points in the Friars 12-point win in January. He held the Providence star to 4 of 10 shooting in this one.
”The first game, I felt like he embarrassed me,” Karaban said. ”I took full responsibility for that loss, because I wasn’t able to contain him as well as I should have.”
FINDING THE WHISTLE
The referees called just five fouls in the first half and neither team shot a free throw before intermission. There were 13 fouls called on Providence in the second half and eight on the Huskies. UConn made 13 of 14 shots from the foul line and Providence was 17 of 20. Providence was 29 of 35 from the line in the teams’ first meeting.
Providence: The Friars visit Georgetown on Sunday.
UConn: The Huskies head to Madison Square Garden on Saturday for a noon matchup with St. John’s.
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