Seton Hall shoots for rare sweep of No. 3 UConn


No. 3 UConn delivered what coach Dan Hurley called a “championship response” on Feb. 24 after taking a surprise drubbing.

Following a full week off, the reigning national champion Huskies will resume their march toward a Big East regular-season title and a No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed when they oppose Seton Hall on Sunday afternoon in Storrs, Conn.

UConn (25-3, 15-2 Big East) hasn’t played since defeating Villanova 78-54, a win that erased some of the pain of losing 85-66 at then-No. 15 Creighton earlier that week. The result against the Bluejays ended UConn’s 14-game winning streak.

“You win 14 straight, you don’t lose for two months, you lose a game — whether you lose by 20 or two — it’s jarring, and like you wonder, there’s this little voice in your head saying, ‘Will we ever win again?’” Hurley said.

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The college basketball world, of course, was sure the Huskies would win again. Entering the weekend, they remained No. 4 in the NET rankings and No. 3 in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin. But UConn’s all-around response in the Villanova game left little doubt.

Cam Spencer took flak from fans for scoring just six points on 3-of-8 shooting at Creighton. He came out firing against Villanova and posted a game-high 25 points, matching his season high, by making 9 of 13 attempts from the field and 5 of 8 from 3-point range.

Hurley said the postgrad transfer’s motivation was all internal.

“He doesn’t live in the world that most kids his age live in because he’s not on social (media),” Hurley said. “This was just a man that doesn’t give a crap what people are saying on social. It’s more his own standards. That’s what makes him special.”

Tristen Newton posted a unique triple-double coming from a guard. He had 10 points, 16 rebounds (15 on the defensive glass) and 10 assists against the Wildcats.

Seton Hall (18-10, 11-6), in fourth place in the Big East, is one of three teams to have defeated UConn this season.

The Pirates capitalized in their conference opener in Newark, N.J., when UConn center Donovan Clingan left with a foot injury and the rest of the Huskies combined to shoot 15-for-46 (32.6 percent). Kadary Richmond racked up 23 points, six rebounds, five assists and eight steals to steer Seton Hall to a 75-60 victory on Dec. 20.

Seton Hall hasn’t swept UConn in the season series since 1992-93. The feat may be even tougher as the Pirates return east after a noncompetitive 85-64 loss at Creighton on Wednesday.

“These guys got to understand: Every game from here on out, we’re fighting for our lives, and we didn’t come out (Wednesday) and fight for our lives,” Seton Hall coach Shaheen Holloway said in a postgame radio interview. “We’ve got to turn the page, obviously learn from this and fight on Sunday.”

Richmond (16.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 2.0 steals per game) does some of everything for Seton Hall and has a strong history against UConn. He has averaged 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and three steals per game in six matchups against the Huskies.

Newton (15.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.1 steals per game) is UConn’s answer. He had 16 points, six boards and six turnovers in the first Seton Hall game.

–Field Level Media

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