National Basketball Association
Connecticut 80, Xavier 72
When: 12:00 PM ET, Saturday, February 13, 2021
Where: Cintas Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
# Lamar Simpson, # Wally Rutecki, # Michael Stephens
RJ Cole scored a season-high 24 points as UConn shook off a slow start and recorded an 80-72 victory over host Xavier Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati.
Cole made 7 of 14 shots, hit five 3-pointers and collected seven assists and four rebounds as the Huskies (9-5, 6-5 Big East) rebounded nicely from Wednesday's loss at Providence and won for the second time in their past six games.
Cole helped UConn get the win as it played without leading scorer James Bouknight, who missed his eighth straight game with an elbow injury.
Tyrese Martin added 15 and nine rebounds after tweaking his ankle in UConn's practice on Friday. Isaiah Whaley contributed 12 and 10 boards for the Huskies, who shot 44.4 percent and hit 11 3-pointers after missing 16 of 20 3-point tries Wednesday.
The Musketeers (11-3, 4-3) returned from their third COVID-19 related pause but had little consistent offense beyond leading scorer Zach Freemantle in their first game since beating Butler two weeks ago.
Freemantle scored a career high 30 points and collected 15 rebounds while shooting 13 of 26 but Xavier was unable to win its third straight.
Nate Johnson added 14 for Xavier while Paul Scruggs shot 3-of-10 and finished with nine points and 12 assists as the Musketeers shot 40.3 percent.
Xavier raced out to a 14-5 lead on Freemantle's 3-pointer a little over four minutes into the game, but the Huskies responded impressively, ripping off a 19-7 run over the next seven-plus minutes and held a 26-21 edge on a 3-pointer by Tyler Polley with 7:16 remaining. The Huskies expanded their lead to 38-30 on a 3-pointer by Cole with 43 seconds left and held a 38-32 edge by halftime.
UConn held a 49-40 lead on a 3-pointer by Whaley with 14:49 remaining but missed six straight shots and Xavier forged a 49-49 tie on a jumper by Freemantle with 11:36 left. The Huskies responded and took a 61-54 lead on a 3-pointer by Cole with 7:47 remaining.
Cole gave UConn its first double-digit lead when his 3-pointer made it 66-56 with 5:33 remaining, and he hit another 3-pointer for a 71-59 advantage with 2:49 left. A 3-pointer by Johnson cut the lead to 76-72 with 19 seconds left but the Huskies made four free throws to seal the win.
--Field Level Media
Top Game Performances
R.J. Cole 24
Zach Freemantle 30
R.J. Cole 7
Paul Scruggs 12
Isaiah Whaley 10
Zach Freemantle 15
R.J. Cole 5
||Free Throws Made
Colby Jones 5
R.J. Cole 2
Paul Scruggs 4
Isaiah Whaley 5
Zach Freemantle 1
Team Stats Summary