NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Iona vs UCONN

UConn center Adama Sanogo picked an opportune moment to go off for one his career's best games. The junior star exploded for 28 points and 13 rebounds in just 25 minutes during the Huskies' 87-63 win over No. 13 seed Iona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday. Sanogo's scoring output marked a season high and helped the Huskies outscore the Gaels 50-24 in the second half.

It was also the fastest any player has reached 25 points and 10 rebounds in an NCAA Tournament game since 1984.

The Gaels, who are coached by Rick Pitino, entered as a trendy upset pick and led 39-37 at halftime. But Sanogo scored 13 straight points for UConn over a stretch of less than four minutes early in the second half to flip the momentum squarely in the Huskies' favor.

Sanogo hit 10 of 12 shots in the second half and racked up 22 points after the break, nearly matching Iona's point total for the half by himself. Seven-footer Donovan Clingan added 12 points and 9 rebounds for UConn, which dominated Iona on the inside with a 17-7 edge in points in the paint. 

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UConn's exploitation of its size advantage was particularly critical against Iona, which made 6 of 11 attempts from 3-point range in the first half. While the Gaels do have a seven-footer of their own in Osborn Shema, he and the rest of Iona's roster were ill-equipped to hand UConn's interior barrage.

Sanogo wasn't the only Big East big man to produce a huge performance for his team in Friday's NCAA Tournament action. Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner exploded for a career-high 31 points for the Bluejays in their 72-63 win over No. 11 seed NC State. For Xavier, bruising forward Jerome Hunter also shined with 24 in the Musketeers' win over No. 14 seed Kennesaw State.

Entering the evening showdown between No. 6 seed Kentucky and No. 11 seed Providence, Big East teams were 4-0 in the first round of the Big Dance.