In a tremendous environment in Hartford, the No. 21 Connecticut
Huskies defeated the No. 8 Villanova Wildcats 71-69 in a thriller.
This was the Huskies' first win against Villanova since 2014. UConn
sophomore Adama Sanogo led all players with 20 points, while senior
Collin Gillespie scored 17 for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats (21-7, 14-4 Big East) entered this one having won
five in a row, and have climbed to a No. 3 seed in the latest
Bracketology projections. Led by Gillespie, their offense ranks
sixth in the nation in Adjusted Efficiency, as they are on the
heels of Providence for the top spot in the Big East standings.
The Huskies (20-7, 11-5 Big East) entered ranking fourth in
conference play after winning their last three contests. They are
18th in the country in Overall Adjusted Efficiency behind
tremendous play from RJ Cole and Sanogo. Cole, a Howard transfer,
is averaging 16.2 points and 4.3 assists per game.
UConn started off hot, hitting 5 of its first 6 shots to jump
out to a 12-6 lead, and not a soul in the arena was sitting down.
Gillespie and Brandon Slater answered with some tough baskets for
Nova on a 7-0 run to take a 20-19 lead at the 10-minute
At 4:53, UConn head coach Dan Hurley was ejected for what seemed
like merely pumping up the home crowd from the bench. The teams
then traded buckets until the end of the half when the home team
took a 33-32 lead into the break.
Sanogo led all players with 10 points, while Cole and Jermaine
Samuels had 8 points each. Slater, Gillespie, Isaiah Whaley,and
Justin Moore each had 7 points, as the teams both had a fairly
The Wildcats started quickly in the second half, as they jumped
out to a 43-26 lead. Nova would steal the lead back at 7:55 when
Gillespie connected on a triple to make it 56-54. At 2:56, the
Wildcats extended the lead further on a Samuels three, making it
Sanogo tied the game at 65-65 at 1:47 left, but then Gillespie
and Slater knocked down some clutch free throws to take a 69-65
lead. Following a timeout, Tyler Polley hit a huge triple for the
Huskies to bring it to 69-68. Cole quickly stole the ball away with
0:17 on the clock and called another timeout. Then, Cole drove the
lane with power and hit a tough, off-balance layup with five
seconds on the clock to take a 70-69 lead.
The Husky faithful lost their minds.
Gillespie took the inbound coast-to-coast, but was called for a
charge with one second remaining. UConn connected on a free throw
to make it 71-69, and the game was over from there.
Whaley finished with 13 points, and Tyrese Martin posted 9
points and 9 rebounds in the UConn win. Slater posted 15 points and
Moore scored 12 for Villanova.
Connecticut currently projects as a No. 5 seed in the NCAA
Tournament, but will likely see that rise next week with this huge
Villanova hosts No. 11 Providence on March 1.
UConn visits Georgetown on Sunday afternoon.