The Huskies passed the first major test of the Dan Hurley era with the win against their former Big East rival.
“They had a look the last couple days that they couldn’t get here and play. They went out and performed at such a high level,” Hurley said.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery was watching the first game of the doubleheader at Madison Square Garden.
“I was impressed with how hard (UConn) played,” he said. “I thought they shared the ball and I thought they really competed defensively.”
He could have said the same about his team, as the Hawkeyes held the Ducks to 37.1 percent shooting from the field (23-62) and 33.3 percent shooting from 3 (6-18).
“It was a disappointing effort,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “Our ball movement was not good. Our transition, we looked over the top a few times and didn’t finish, and really kind of quit running after that. Our ball movement was bad. We didn’t penetrated took to make shots for our teammates. And when you’re playing poorly like that offensively, you have to do something defensively and we were bad there.”
Oregon only forced eight turnovers while committing 14. Moreover, Iowa made 35.2 percent of its shots from the field (19-54), 35.7 percent from 3 (10-28) and knocked down 29-33 from the foul line.
“I know I’m disappointed in what I saw,” Altman said. “We just didn’t do a good job. We didn’t compete, and I know they’re disappointed in that.”
Iowa led throughout. The Hawkeyes jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first 2:36, and enjoyed a 39-28 advantage at halftime. The lead grew to 13, 52-39, on Kriener’s dunk with 12:19 left in the second half.
Oregon closed with seven, 76-69, in the final 23.6 seconds, but that was as close as the Ducks would come.
“We saw a little frustration going on,” Bohannon said about the Ducks. “So we knew right there that we had them.”
Ehab Amin led all players with 25 points. Bol Bol chipped in with 14, and Victor Bailey Jr. had 12.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was disappointed in the way his team played. Syracuse dropped to 2-1 with its first loss of the season in a game in which the Orange missed 40 of their 66 shots from the field, including misfiring on 16 of 22 3s.
Not improving his mood was the fact UConn out rebounded Syracuse 46-32.
“We weren’t in any way, shape or form good on the offensive end,” said Boeheim, who later added, “we got crushed on the boards. We got crushed inside.”
Jalen Carey led all scorers with 26. Tyus Battle had 16, and Elijah Hughes chipped in with 15.
“Jalen played with a lot of poise,” said Boeheim, “but the guys we count on to score did not play well.”
From the opening tip, an unceasing cacophony filled Madison Square Garden, a reminder that these programs —Syracuse in the ACC, Connecticut in the American Athletic Conference —can trace their roots to the World’s Most Famous Arena, and more specifically, the Big East Conference.
So it was only fitting that the game was played with a distinct Big East flavor. Easy shots were at a premium. Seemingly every loose ball was contested. Arms and legs were entangled with other arms and legs. Bodies fell to the famous hardwood. Players on the benches jumped up and roared with glee at every call that went their way. When they weren’t stalking up and down the sidelines, Hurley and Boeheim were either gesticulating to the officiating staff or engaged in one-way conversations with their players.
The Huskies led 38-32 at halftime due in part to a 13-4 run in the first 4:29, and outscoring the Orange, 9-7, in the last 5:01.
“We got after them to start the game,” Hurley said. “They were rattled.”
Connecticut opened the scoring in both halves. Adams slammed a back door, alley-oop jam just 14 seconds into the game, and Vital’s left side 3 49 seconds into the second half increased the Huskies’ lead to 41-32. Gilbert’s left-side 3 5:06 later extended UConn’s lead to 10, 51-41, and forced Boeheim to call a timeout.
When play resumed, Syracuse outscored UConn 25-19 over a span of 10:42 to cut the deficit to 70-66. But any chance Syracuse would complete the comeback were snuffed by Gilbert and Adams 3s on consecutive possessions. Smith, Tyler Polley, Gilbert and Adams combined to knock down seven of eight free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
“We didn’t play very smart on offense and scored (76) points,” Boeheim said. We’ve just got to be better on offense. Movement wasn’t good. We have to get into things. We haven’t been good offensively for all the game that we’ve played and we’re trying to work guys out of position. We’re not in sync (on) offense at all.”