NCAA Men's Basketball

No. 17 UConn out for some revenge vs. Creighton

No. 17 UConn aims to continue its ascent in the Big East standings on Tuesday night when it plays host to Creighton at Hartford, Conn.

The Huskies (15-4, 6-2 Big East) relied on a sizzling performance from R.J. Cole and stingy defense in the second half of their 57-50 victory over DePaul on Saturday in Chicago.

Cole scored 16 of his 25 points in the first half for UConn, which has secured five straight conference victories after a 1-2 start to Big East play. Cole also made his presence felt on the defensive end by picking up a pair of charges.

"Somebody needed to jump-start us, offensively and defensively," Cole said. "We were very lackadaisical on both ends of the floor in the first half. I think in the second half, we buckled down finally and settled into the game and got into a rhythm."

Cole, who is averaging a team-best 16.1 points per game, finished one point shy of his career high with the Huskies. He scored 26 points in UConn's 70-63 overtime win over Virginia Commonwealth on Nov. 26.

"Obviously, R.J. carried us on a night where we had a ton of guys just struggling individually offensively," Huskies coach Dan Hurley said. "I wish we would've played better, but you're never upset when you walk away with a road win in this league."

UConn, which limited DePaul to 28.8 percent shooting from the floor on Saturday, is about to begin a challenging portion of its schedule. The Huskies play nine games in 27 days, with including a pair of encounters against both No. 12 Villanova and No. 21 Xavier as well as one versus No. 24 Marquette.

"This is what you come to UConn for," the Huskies' Andre Jackson said, following his 13-rebound performance. "This is what you come to the Big East for."

The Huskies will look to avenge three defeats to Creighton last season, with the final setback coming in the semifinals of the Big East tournament. Cole scored just five points in UConn's 59-56 loss to the Bluejays on March 12 at New York.

Creighton (12-7, 4-4) will look to rebound after squandering a 17-point halftime lead in Saturday's 74-64 setback to No. 21 Xavier.

"It's going to take a little self-reflection on their part and my part to find a way to come out of that locker room better in the second half," Bluejays coach Greg McDermott said. "We let the opponent dictate what they wanted to do on both sides of the floor. We need to learn and need to grow and get better."

Ryan Nembhard scored a season-high 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting from the floor on Saturday after totaling a combined 14 points on 7-of-30 shooting in his previous three games.

"We got a little complacent coming out of halftime and were stagnant on offense," said Nembhard, who became the first Bluejays freshman with multiple 20-point games since Marcus Zegarowski (2018-19). Nembhard had 22 points in Creighton's 77-69 win over Nebraska on Nov. 16.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 31, 2022