Butler looks to avoid same result vs. No. 25 UConn
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Butler coach LaVall Jordan had a question for UConn coach Dan Hurley before their teams started a home-and-home series Tuesday night.
"I asked Danny if they wanted to hop in the plane with us, but he turned that down," Jordan joked.
What the 25th-ranked Huskies did to the Bulldogs in Hartford, Conn., was no joke. UConn established a 39-24 halftime lead and cruised to a 76-59 win in the makeup of a game postponed from Jan. 1 because of COVID-19 issues in the Huskies program.
Butler gets its chance at a series split Thursday night when the teams get together again in Indianapolis. But for the Bulldogs to do what they didn't come close to doing Tuesday night, they will need to make a few shots and do a better job on the glass.
The Bulldogs (9-8, 2-4 Big East) connected on just 18 of 59 shots (30.5 percent), including a pitiful 8 of 30 (26.7 percent) in the first half. Simas Lukosius went 7 of 13 from the floor, but his teammates shot 23.9 percent for the night.
It wasn't the response Lukosius or his teammates desired after an 82-42 blowout loss at then-No. 14 Villanova on Sunday.
"We don't like to lose," he said. "We haven't performed that well, and we haven't performed the way we know we can perform."
What has to be concerning to Jordan and his players is this: Not only have they lost five of their past seven games, but all five losses have been by at least 15 points. And they've allowed at least 71 points in each of those games, which is far removed from the program's identity of tough, physical defense.
Jayden Taylor is the team's only double-figure scorer, at 10.2 points per game, but he has made just 40.3 percent from the field. And although he scored a game-high 19 points on Tuesday night, he canned only 5 of 13 shots.
Meanwhile, the Huskies (12-4, 3-2) won in routine fashion despite making only 42.2 percent of their field-goal attempts. They placed five players in double figures, led by R.J. Cole with 17 points.
The headline performance might have come from Adama Sanogo. Despite hitting just 6 of 14 shots and missing a spate of layups, he still finished with 13 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots in 25 minutes.
"When you're off a tick and you can still go get 13, 15 and four blocks in (25) minutes, you're pretty good," Hurley said.
UConn also got 14 points off the bench from Jordan Hawkins; a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double from Andre Jackson; and 10 points out of reserve Tyler Polley. The Huskies earned a 49-39 advantage on the glass and committed just nine turnovers.
"We've been talking about depth all year," Cole said, "and so finally it's starting to click for us."
UConn has won all four games in the teams' series. The first meeting occurred in the 2011 NCAA championship game in Houston, where the Huskies carved out a 53-41 win to complete a surprising run from the ninth seed in the Big East tourney to national champs.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 19, 2022