Freemantle recorded career-highs in both points (30) and rebounds (15), as UConn didn’t seem to have an answer for the big man.
The good news for the Huskies is that they were able to overcome Freemantle’s explosion and put up their highest point total since scoring 82 against DePaul on December 30.
Xavier came out red hot, going up 11-2 at the first media timeout as it seemed like another slow start for a UConn offense that has been sputtering ever since Jame Bouknight’s injury, but then RJ Cole and Akok Akok got rolling for the Huskies. The pair combined for 19 of UConn’s 38 first half points and helped the Huskies take a 38-32 lead into the break.
Xavier figured out how to stop Akok at the break, holding him scoreless in the second half. The problem became Cole, Tyrese Martin, and Isaiah Whaley, as the trio each had at least ten points in the final 20 minutes, combining for 35 of UConn’s 42 in the half and leading the Huskies to their first conference victory since January 24.
Cole’s 24 points led the Huskies, but it was Whaley’s 12 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks that really sealed the deal for UConn, as Whaley continues to do a little bit of everything.
Aside from Freemantle, Nate Johnson’s 14 points stood out for Xavier.
UConn improves to 9-5 (6-5 in Big East play) on the season and will host Providence on Tuesday evening, while Xavier falls to 11-3 (4-3 in Big East play) and will head to St. John’s on Tuesday.