It seems fitting that two teams who require a win and have had trouble finding ways to end games had to play a game that ended in overtime. The UConn Huskies knocked the St. John’s Red Storm off 86-78 on Wednesday night in Storrs to rebound off a brief slide they were on.
The game from the neutral perspective featured several twists and turns over the course of the night and some rather sloppy play. On top of this, Adama Sanogo decided to host an impromptu block party tonight that by itself, along with the play of RJ Cole, could have been the main talking point for the game. To add to the twists, Julian Champagnie had to add another shot to his St. John’s highlight reel. He briefly gave the Johnnies the lead and the hope of a second Big East win, but the Huskies were able to put the game in extras after Sanogo hit a free throw.
In overtime, it was pretty much all Huskies. The Red Storm ran out of gas, players due to fouling out, and the inability to make crucial shots at the foul line. This has been a lingering issue and seems to show up at the worst moments for the Red Storm.
In all, it was a chaotic game that was simply fascinating to watch. Let’s break it down further.
The win does many wonders for UConn, who has had a stretch of heartbreak losses over the recent stretch. They still seem to lose the plot by the end of the game, a tad strange quality after demonstrating strong play through the start and middle portions. Whether it's a case of nerves or just a lack of experience is left to be seen, but Dan Hurley will need to go back to the drawing board.
What did help greatly tonight for the Huskies was the play of RJ Cole and Adama Sanogo. Both provided an added boost to help UConn get over the line. Cole did so with his passing and scoring touch. He went off for 19 points on 6-of-15 shooting from the floor and 4-of-4 from the foul line. Cole also had eight assists, a team- and game-high. Sanogo on the other hand had a night to remember. He posted another double-double performance with a game-high 26 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. His stellar defensive play stood out as there were stretches where St. John’s could not get close to the basket. Sanogo finished the night with six blocks.
Speaking of the Johnnies, once again they came so close and still appear to be further away from the target than they had been before.
Champagnie put up 27 points on 10-of-22 shooting and 3-of-3 from the foul line. It was a quiet 27 points as he had stretches of little to no action on the floor. This included a period through half of the second half where he had only one shot attempted.
Along with Champagnie, Posh Alexander had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. He also had a team-leading five assists and was once again the primary ball-mover for the Johnnies as Dylan Addae-Wusu had an off game tonight. The only other prominent scorer was Aaron Wheeler who had 13 points but fouled out in overtime. So his efforts were limited in the extra frame. Addae-Wusu and Joel Soriano also fouled out, leveling the Red Storm with limited options late in the game.
With this game in the books, UConn now turns their attention to the tough task of hitting the road to play Providence and St. John’s head home to play Georgetown.