UConn men’s basketball team returns from COVID hiatus, hits the road to face No. 24 Seton Hall

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After 17 days, UConn men’s basketball is finally back.

UConn (10-3, 1-1 Big East) heads on the road to face No. 24 Seton Hall (10-3, 1-2) on Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The Huskies last played on Dec. 21 with a 78-70 win against Marquette. Since then, UConn had its next two games — Xavier on Dec. 28 and Butler on Jan. 1 — canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Huskies program.

UConn had just six players that did not get COVID-19 according to coach Dan Hurley. Hurley is also recovering from COVID-19.

For Saturday’s game, UConn should have its entire roster, but some players will play limited minutes. One of those players could be UConn starting forward Adama Sanogo, who sustained a hamstring injury in the second half of the Marquette game. He has been limited at practice and his status going into Saturday is uncertain.

“That was the issue with Adama, we limited him to 12-15 minutes in the Marquette game and he still tweaked a hamstring because he is still not in game shape because of the abdominal thing,” Hurley said.

UConn hit double digits in players who practiced on Thursday. Players who have missed practice will still play on Saturday.

“I think we will just limit them in terms of minutes,” Hurley said.

The Huskies roster is fully vaccinated, and recently many of the players have received their booster shot. After two cancellations, Hurley expects to play all of their games the remainder of the season.

“Unless the other six guys get it [COVID-19] all the same day, even if we are limited in having seven or eight guys, we should be good to go from here on out hopefully.”

UConn will have a big road test against Seton Hall which has one of the deepest rosters in the Big East and will have their full roster available. The Pirates are one of only four programs in the country with multiple wins over top-10 teams this season and are coming off of their first Big East victory of the season, a 71-56 win at Butler on Jan. 4.

If the Huskies were to win, it would be their third quadrant 1 win, making them 3-2 for the year.

For Hurley, an alumnus of Seton Hall, this game is always special. Hurley lettered at Seton Hall from 1991-96, played on three NCAA Tournament teams, scored 1,070 points and ranks ninth on the program’s assist list with 437.

“That area means to me every time I come back there. ... It always means a lot to me,” he said.

Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s matchup.

The basics

UConn vs. Seton Hall

Time: 12 p.m. ET, Saturday

Place: Prudential Center (Newark, N.J.)

Series: UConn leads 46-19

Last meeting: UConn won, 69-58, on Mar. 3 2021 at the Prudential Center

TV: Fox (Tim Brando and Donny Marshall)

Live Stream: Fox Sports app

Radio: UConn Sports Network (Mike Crispino, Wayne Norman). Sirius-83. XM-385. SXM-app-975. 97.9-ESPN Hartford. WILI-1400-AM (Willimantic). WATR-1320-AM (Waterbury). WAVZ-1300-AM (New Haven). WGCH-1490-AM (Greenwich).

No.24 Seton Hall (10-3, 1-2) probable starters, sixth man

Bryce Aiken, G, 6-0, Gr.; Tray Jackson, F, 6-9, Jr.; Alexis Yetna, F, 6-8, Gr.; Jared Rhoden, G, 6-6, Sr.; Myles Cale, G, 6-6, Gr.; Kadary Richmond, G, 6-6, So.

UConn (10-3, 1-1) probable starters, sixth man

R.J. Cole, G, 6-1, GS; Isaiah Whaley, F, 6-9, GS; ; Akok Akok, F, 6-9, R-Jr.; Tyrese Martin, G/F, 6-6, Sr.; Andre Jackson, G/F, 6-6, So.; Jordan Hawkins, G, 6-5, Fr.

The matchup

UConn offense: The UConn offense will need to play with pace and make sure to not start slow offensively.

UConn defense: The guard defense need to be good and not allow easy drives to the rim.

Seton Hall offense: Jared Rhoden leads Seton Hall in scoring with 16.4 points a game. Seton Hall has three scorers in double figures in Rhoden, Aiken (12.2) and Samuel (10.8).

Seton Hall defense: UConn needs to take care of the ball against a Seton Hall team that has over four players averaging 1.5 steals per game. The Pirates have held eight of their first 13 opponents to 65 points or less and currently rank 22nd in adjusted defensive efficiency by KenPom.

UConn’s key: Don’t tire out and get down big against a Seton Hall squad filled with depth.

Player to watch: Martin. The senior guard had his best game of the season against Marquette after scoring a career-high 25 points and grabbing six rebounds. It’s important to see if he can keep that momentum going against Seton Hall.

About Seton Hall’s coach: Kevin Willard has been Seton Hall’s coach for 11 years. In that span, he has coached them to six 20-win seasons. With Seton Hall’s win over Rutgers on Dec. 12, Willard passed P.J. Carlesimo (213 wins) and is now in sole possession of second on Seton Hall’s all-time wins list.

Seton Hall mascot: The mascot is a Pirate, which was chosen in 1931.

Seton Hall famous alumni: NBA Hall of Famer Bob Davies.

Shreyas Laddha can be reached at sladdha@courant.com.

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