Men's College Basketball

Huskies down Hoyas 80-67, break series tie

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Georgetown Hoyas forward Supreme Cook led his team with 18 points and 13 rebounds during Sunday’s game against the UConn Huskies at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

Since their first meeting 65 years ago, the Georgetown Hoyas and UConn Huskies have faced each other 72 times and each team has won 36 contests. When they matched up on Sunday afternoon at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., for their 73rd meeting, it was UConn who pulled ahead in the series with an 80-67 victory in front of 15,684 in attendance.

Georgetown took an early lead with a dunk by forward Supreme Cook, but it was answered by three-pointers by Huskies guard Cam Spencer and forward Alex Karaban to give the home team a quick 6-2 lead with 17:15 remaining in the opening quarter. The Hoyas never led after Cook’s opening basket.

For the rest of the half, the teams traded baskets and the Huskies slowly built up a 13-point lead. Spencer and Karaban combined for seven three-pointers in the half, compared to one by Hoyas guard Wayne Bristol Jr. Meanwhile, the Hoyas made 22 free throw attempts in the half, the most in a Big East game since 2018.

The Huskies led 40-31 at halftime. For Georgetown, Cook scored 16 points on 4-for-4 shooting and notched his 20th career double-double in the second quarter. Karaban led UConn with 19 points on 6-for-8 shooting including five three-pointers.

When play resumed, Hoyas guard Jay Heath, along with forwards Jayden Epps and Dontrez Styles attempted to rally their team back into contention, but UConn seemed to have an answer each time.

UConn Husky forward Alex Karaban led all scorers with 26 points, including six three-pointers, during Sunday’s game against the Georgetown Hoyas at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

Heath scored a layup. It was answered by one from Karaban. Styles was fouled by Husky guard Stephon Castle and hit two free throws. Then Castle nailed a three-pointer before fouling Styles again, who connected on another pair of shots from the charity stripe. Spencer hit a three-pointer which was answered by one by Styles. It was 48-40 in favor of UConn with 16:11 remaining and the Hoyas were not much closer than when they started the quarter.

Heath and Epps went on a short 6-0 run with three consecutive layups, but that was answered by a Spencer three pointer. Heath hit a three-pointer which was answered by one from UConn guard Hassan Diarra. Epps scored on a layup followed with one from Diarra. Heath hit a three-pointer followed by a trey by Spencer. Cook fouled out with 6:21 left and the score 68-56 in favor of the Huskies.

Husky guard Tristen Newton fouled Hoyas center Drew Fielder with 3:30 remaining in regulation. Fielder made both free throws. Heath fouled out of the game when he collided with Newton on the inbounds pass. Newton made both free throws to give the Huskies a commanding 76-63 lead.

The 13 point differential held up for the last three minutes as UConn found themselves victorious with an 80-67 final score.

UConn went 24-for-47 (51.1 percent) from the field; 13-for-24 (54.2 percent) from three-point range; and 19-for-25 (76.0 percent) from the free throw line. They committed 12 turnovers which led to eight Georgetown points. UConn led 11-4 in fast break points and 22-20 in points-in-the-paint.

Georgetown Hoyas forward Supreme Cook tips in an easy layup while Connecticut Huskies watch for a rebound during Sunday’s game at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

“Nothing in this league is easy, especially when it’s a team coached by Ed Cooley. He’s one of the best you could go against,” said UConn head coach Dan Hurley about the Georgetown head coach.

The Hoyas went 17-for-50 (34.0 percent) from the field; 4-for-16 (25.0 percent) in three-point shooting; and 29-for-38 (76.3 percent) from the charity stripe. Georgetown committed eight turnovers leading to six Husky points.

“I was proud of our guys. I thought we got better today,” said Cooley. “We didn’t win the game but I thought we continued to fight.”

Alex Karaban led all scorers with 26 points. Cam Spencer added 20 points and Stephon Castle pitched in for 14. Tristen Newton and Spencer each pulled down seven rebounds. Newton’s eight assists led his team in that category.

“Alex is a burgeoning player, [becoming] one of the best players in the league. He’s always underappreciated,” said Hurley. “When you talk about guys who are having great years, we have three guys who are having great years – Alex [Karaban], Cam [Spencer] and Tristen [Newton]. When you walk about Big East Player of the Year candidates, Alex is right up there with some of our guys.”

The Hoyas were led by Supreme Cook’s 18 points and 13 rebounds. Jayden Epps added 16 points and Dontrez Styles scored 11 points. Georgetown had four assists thanks to four players each dishing one dime.

UConn Husky Cam Spencer attempts to block a shot by an unidentified Georgetown Hoyas player during Sunday’s game at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

“Supreme is like, a warrior. He just battles and battles and battles. You know he’s like a battering ram in there, right? He’s feisty. I think he’s gotten better every single game,” said Cooley. “He’s been the mainstay of our program. He’s been consistent in every single game that we’ve played. Of our 17 games that we played, he’s been the most consistent and one of the most improved players. I’m proud of him. The Hoyas have to do a better job helping him so hopefully his teammates will help him out.”

With the win, it is expected that the Huskies will be named the top ranked team in the country when the rankings come out tomorrow. Currently the fourth seed, the top three teams have all lost their respective games, which may propel the Huskies into the top ranked seed.

“They should be ranked No. 1. It’s not so much the ranking. When you prepare for this group, the preparation is really heavy because of the talent. There’s not too many weak links in their lineup,” said Cooley.

The ranking doesn’t matter as much to Hurley.

“I think it matters less when you’re coming off of a championship. I think we embrace the title at UConn,” said Hurley. “This isn’t like whose analytics are the best. It’s not the same as like who should be the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. I think it’s important to more people in the program than it is me.”

With the win, the Huskies record goes to 14-2 overall and 5-1 in Big East play. They host Creighton on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. Meanwhile, the Hoyas fall to 8-9 overall and 1-5 in the Big East. They travel to Xavier for a 6:30 p.m. ET matchup at Cintas Center in Cincinnati on Friday.

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