No. 25 Xavier snaps 2-game skid, beats No. 24 UConn 74-68

Feb 11, 2022, 4:39 AM | Updated: 7:35 pm
Xavier guard Colby Jones dunks during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game aga...

Xavier guard Colby Jones dunks during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Connecticut, Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

(AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

CINCINNATI (AP) — Jack Nunge had 22 points and nine rebounds, and No. 25 Xavier snapped a two-game losing streak with a 74-68 victory over No. 24 Connecticut on Friday night.

Zach Freemantle scored all 12 of his points in the second half, and Nate Johnson also had 12 points for Xavier (17-7, 7-6 Big East).

“UConn’s as talented as any team we’ve played all year,” Musketeers head coach Travis Steele said. “If we do what we’re supposed to do, we can compete with anyone. This is great for our confidence moving forward.”

R.J. Cole scored 22 points to lead UConn (16-7, 7-5 Big East). Tyrese Martin added 18 points for the Huskies.

“We lost the game with our defense on Nunge (and) not guarding (Paul) Scruggs off the dribble to start the second half,” UConn head coach Dan Hurley said.

The game, originally scheduled for Dec. 28, was postponed due to COVID-19 issues in the UConn program.

The teams met for just the fourth time, and second time at Cintas Center, with UConn winning there, 80-72, on Feb 13, 2021.

Both teams have been plagued recently by slow offensive starts, especially Xavier, which trailed at halftime in seven of its previous eight games.

But the Musketeers raced to a rare halftime lead on Friday, helped by Johnson’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer which put them ahead 34-31. Johnson had 10 points in the first half.

Cole and Sanogo each picked up two early fouls and played a combined 18 minutes in the first half.

“I thought they were brutal calls in the first half,” Hurley said. “That’s not why we had the deficit at the half. But yeah, what a joke.”

Scruggs and Zach Freemantle, who were scoreless in the first half, combined for 15 points to help the Musketeers extend their lead to 54-46 with 9:50 left. Scruggs finished with nine points.

“Paul (Scruggs) was getting to the rim,” Steele said. “We were getting UConn in rotation, which would open up the lane for drives. Our guys did a nice job of taking what the defense gave us.”

UConn kept the score close by converting 10 Xavier turnovers into 14 points.

The Musketeers led by as many as 10 points in the second half before the Huskies got within three points with 30 seconds remaining. But, Xavier held on.

“I felt like this was a huge momentum game for us, and we needed it,” said Xavier guard Colby Jones, who had six assists.

The Musketeers played without their second-leading 3-point shooter, Adam Kunkel, who was sidelined by illness not related to COVID-19, according to Steele.

HURLEY HOT

The Huskies’ head coach wasn’t pleased with a few calls in the first half that led to early foul trouble for his team. Late in the second half, Hurley and Huskies guard Andre Jackson received technical fouls less than a minute apart.

“I see a lot of coaches in the ear of the officials, and I didn’t think there was anything there that warranted a technical,” Hurley said. “So I will be calling up our head of officials, because I want an explanation on that.”

BIG PICTURE

UConn: The Huskies snapped a two-game losing streak with a win over No. 18 Marquette on Tuesday to begin a stretch of four games in nine days, three on the road. But they couldn’t build off that momentum. “The Big East is a hard league to get momentum in,” Hurley said. “It’s really easy to fall into losing streaks and very hard to stack wins.”

Xavier: After losing two straight games, and four of their previous six, including a bad loss at home to DePaul, the Musketeers needed a win to get back on track and get above .500 in the Big East. “Everybody in the locker room, we believe we have a great team. We just have to go out there and show it,” said Nunge.

UP NEXT

UConn: Plays at St. John’s on Sunday.

Xavier: Hosts St. John’s on Wednesday.

___

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates a touchdown during the first half of...
Associated Press

Mahomes throws for 3 TDs, Chiefs overwhelm Buccaneers 41-31

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns, including an electrifying jump pass to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to a 41-31 victory over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night. Playing in a packed stadium only four days after Hurricane Ian ravaged portions […]
22 hours ago
New York Mets manager Buck Showalter left, relieves starting pitcher Chris Bassitt center, in the t...
Associated Press

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Olson knew the Atlanta Braves were too talented to stay in a season-long slump. That’s why no one panicked when the New York Mets’ division lead swelled to double digits in May. Now the Braves are on the cusp of another NL East title. “It’s a clubhouse full of guys who […]
22 hours ago
Relatives stand nearby as survivors of Saturday's soccer riots are treated at a hospital in Malang,...
Associated Press

Stadium tragedy exposes Indonesia’s troubled soccer history

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Gaining the right to host next year’s Under-20 World Cup was a major milestone in Indonesia’s soccer development, raising hopes that a successful tournament would turn around long-standing problems that have blighted the sport in this country of 277 million people. The death of at least 125 people at a […]
22 hours ago
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge reacts after striking out during the seventh inning of a baseball gam...
Associated Press

Yankees star Judge tries again for AL-record 62nd home run

A look at Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees as he approaches major home run milestones: Season HR Total: 61 Sunday’s Game: Struck out three times while going 0 for 3 with a walk in a 3-1 loss to Baltimore in the final home game of the season at Yankee Stadium. Trying to become […]
22 hours ago
San Francisco Giants' David Villar, top, is congratulated by teammates after hitting a two-run sing...
Associated Press

Villar single in 10th, Giants beat D-backs in home finale

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Rookie David Villar hit a two-run, bases-loaded single with nobody out in the 10th inning to give the San Francisco Giants a 4-3 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday, a dramatic finish to the final game of the season at Oracle Park. The win also kept alive the Giants’ hopes […]
22 hours ago
Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst looks on during the first half of an NCAA college football game ag...
Associated Press

Wisconsin fires Paul Chryst; names DC Leonhard interim coach

Wisconsin fired head coach Paul Chryst on Sunday after a 2-3 start to his eighth season leading the school where he played, in the city where he grew up. The surprising move comes a day after Wisconsin lost at home 34-10 to Illinois and former Badgers coach Bret Bielema. “This is certainly not a decision […]
22 hours ago
No. 25 Xavier snaps 2-game skid, beats No. 24 UConn 74-68