STORRS, Conn. — Fresh off a mesmerizing performance to win the Phil Knight Invitational Sunday night, Andre Jackson electrified the Gampel Pavilion crowd on UConn’s first offensive possession against Oklahoma State on Thursday.
Jackson, who made his first start of the season Thursday, sprinted around the right side of the Cowboys’ defense, locked eyes with point guard Tristen Newton and rose up to finish the lob, swinging around the rim.
Gampel was fired up and remained hot as Adama Sanogo powered in 10 of UConn’s first 17 points and Jordan Hawkins took over. Hawkins finished with a career-high 26 points to lead the Huskies to a 74-64 victory, their ninth straight to start the season.
Midway through the first half, however, the Gampel crowd — which included former Husky stars Caron Butler and Hasheem Thabeet — quieted a bit and shifted closer to the edge of its seat as the Cowboys fought back to take a lead, and then hung around for a bit of back-and-forth. The crowd was sparked to life as a series of fouls led to a 15-0 UConn run. Amid the run, after an OK State turnover, the Huskies sped down the floor and found Hawkins wide open for his third 3-pointer of the game that extended the lead to 37-28. By the time the run was snapped, when John Michael-Wright made a 3 at the three-minute mark, the Huskies led 40-31.
A pair of 3-pointers from Hawkins and Joey Calcaterra in the final 90 seconds of the half allowed the Huskies into the break with a 17-point, 48-31 lead.
Fourteen OK State fouls in the first half led to 15 points for the Huskies from the line.
Coming out of the break Hawkins, on fire, drained his fifth 3 of the game to give UConn a 20-point cushion. Five UConn fouls in the first six minutes of the second half and a series of contested buckets allowed the Cowboys to cut the deficit to 11 points. But, as they’ve done all season, the Huskies responded with an 8-0 scoring run starting with a pair of Sanogo free throws and a step-back triple from Jackson, his lone 3 of the game. Less than a minute later, Calcaterra hit one while fading away in the same corner as the shot clock ran out, extending the UConn lead to 19.
The lead was cut to 9 with under a minute to go, but UConn held on.
Sanogo finished with 20 points as he combined with Hawkins’ 26 and Jackson’s 11 points for 77% of the Huskies scoring. Calcaterra added nine and Alex Karaban four. Newton and Donovan Clingan finished with two points a piece. As a team, UConn shot 21 for 56 from the field and 8 for 23 from 3.
Defensively, the Huskies forced 17 turnovers, which they scored 27 points off of.
It is the program’s first 9-0 start since the 2013-14 season that was capped off with a national championship trophy. UConn will travel to Florida for its first true road game of the season on Thursday, Dec. 7.©2022 Hartford Courant. Visit courant.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.