HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — No. 23 UConn is looking forward to playing in next week's Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Maybe a little too much.
Tyrese Martin had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and the Huskies shook off a slow start during an 87-63 victory over Binghamton on Saturday.
“Not to look ahead of games, but I feel like a lot of players tonight had the Bahamas in the back of their heads and just looking forward to that trip,” Martin said. “It showed in most of the guys’ performances tonight. I mean, guys have to grow from that and take it one game at a time.”
Martin also had four assists, three steals and a blocked shot. He isn't crazy about going to the beach, anyway.
“It’s funny you say that because honestly I’m not a beach person,” Martin said. “I’d rather go in the pool than the beach.”
Adama Sanogo scored 12 points for the Huskies (4-0). Jordan Hawkins had 11, and Andre Jackson finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
Tyler Bertram led Binghamton (1-3) with 15 points. Ogheneyole Akuwovo scored 12.
UConn coach Dan Hurley felt his team could have scored more in the paint than it did, and that its defensive effort could have been more precise.
“Happy that’s over with. Just an incredibly painful game to watch if you’re a UConn fan or coach. Just a really flat, really poor performance at both ends of the court,” Hurley said. “Finishing at the rim was bad. We were in all the wrong spots defensively.”
UConn entered the game shooting 50.5% from the floor, but it missed 13 of its first 14 shots against Binghamton. Still, the Huskies trailed only 7-4 despite that poor offensive start.
Jackson’s dunk off the 12th miss finally got the Huskies going, sparking a 9-0 run.
Binghamton’s zone defense appeared to slow the Huskies down and keep the game relatively close.
“We haven’t played zone all year. We’re not a zone team. But we put in a little soft press back to zone, which I thought didn’t allow them to just come down and throw the ball inside all the time,” Binghamton coach Levell Sanders said.
After Binghamton took that early three-point lead, UConn scored 19 of the game’s next 21 points.
A LITTLE SCRUM
Sanders and Hurley were teammates at Seton Hall in the 1990s. But their teams didn’t get along quite as well as the coaches do.
Akuwovo fouled Jackson hard on a drive to the basket midway through the second half. In the commotion that followed the Flagrant 1 foul, Sanogo was called for a technical foul as he argued with Binghamton’s John McGriff.
“We wanted our guys to compete for 40 minutes. Even the situation where we get an intentional foul, I’d rather us foul than have guys dunk all over us,” Sanders said. “That’s part of competing.”
Hurley didn't think the technical foul called on Sanogo was needed.
“That’s a tough call. In Jersey City, if somebody starts running up on you, you’re going to brace," Hurley said. "And I don’t know, everyone’s from a different place. Where I’m from, somebody runs up on you, you don’t need to punch them but you better be prepared to make some contact first, let’s say. I understand the position the officials are in. They couldn’t go to that contest, I guess.”
Longtime UConn coach Jim Calhoun has some time on his hands again, and Hurley wouldn’t be surprised to see Calhoun at a lot of the Huskies’ practices this season. Calhoun, 79, stepped down Thursday as the coach at Division III Saint Joseph.
“I hope so. It’ll be great to see Coach around,” Hurley said. “The downside for me when Coach decided to stay coaching — it was awesome to see, it was inspirational to see, like a true coach continuing on because he loves being a coach, molding young men, and winning. But to not have him around during the winter as a resource has sucked. The fact that Coach is going to be around a lot is awesome. That’s going to be great for me who is still a relatively young coach.”
Calhoun retired as UConn’s coach in 2012 after winning 625 games and three national championships at the school.
UConn: The Huskies scored at least 87 points and won by at least 24 in each of their first four games. They have not faced a very difficult schedule as of yet, however. UConn’s opponents are a combined 2-16 this season.
Binghamton: Binghamton is 0-15 in its history against ranked opponents. The closest it has come to victory was a 75-54 loss to No. 19 Syracuse in 2003.
UConn heads to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis, opening against Auburn on Wednesday.
Binghamton is idle for seven days before it plays its first home game, Nov. 28 against Hartwick.
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