Another team fell from the ranks of the undefeated as No. 2 UConn went on the road to No. 22 Xavier and lost in decisive fashion 83-73 Saturday. The Musketeers pulled off the upset after leading for the majority of the game and closed out the win with its largest margin of lead late to bring home the 10-point win in front of a rowdy Xavier crowd at the Cintas Center. The result leaves just two teams in college hoops -- Purdue and New Mexico -- still undefeated.
UConn looked poised to do as it has done several times this season by fumbling its execution midgame before surging to another comfortable win. It led by as many as seven points in the second half and several times looked like it may seize control of the game or at least make things interesting. But with 2:25 left in the game and UConn trailing only by two, Huskies coach Dan Hurley got hit with a technical for yelling "unbelievable" -- this according to Hurley, mind you -- and it was never close from there.
"It's tough," Hurley said when asked about his technical foul. "You're aware of the free-throw discrepancy as the game is going on. You see that. It's factoring into your mind. . . I wish I wouldn't have said 'unbelievable' but, put yourself in my shoes, but you have to factor in [foul discrepancy and a tense environment]."
Xavier was lights out in the second half on both ends, forcing 10 turnovers in the final 20 minutes which it converted to 14 points and hitting 13 of 26 shots from the field in the final frame.
Xavier big man Jack Nunge, who was not quite 100% due to an illness, was able to play 24 minutes, scoring 15 points and doing a great job defending UConn superstar big man Adama Sanogo. Both Zach Freemantle and Colby Jones tied with a team-high 16 points while transfer Souley Boum contributed 11 points.
Souley Boum has the Cintas Center on 🔥! @XavierMBB x #BIGEASThoops pic.twitter.com/K5IrN9XgZz— BIG EAST MBB (@BIGEASTMBB) December 31, 2022
The story of the game was the way in which Xavier played to its strengths and the way in which UConn got out of its rhythm. Xavier dominated inside with 40 points in the paint to UConn's 28, forced 16 total turnovers and was able to get to the free-throw line with regularity for easy points. Sanogo got 18 points on 17 shots and teammate Andre Jackson Jr. added 14, but on offense UConn could not find consistency and keep pace with Xavier and its myriad offensive explosions throughout the game.