STORRS - Before his teamâ€™s game against Seton Hall Saturday, UConn freshman Andre Jackson said he was given rather specific instructions from the coaching staff.
Those reminders were in his mind early in the second half when he provided what coach Dan Hurley likes to call â€śsplash plays.â€ť In this case, Jackson soared over Huskies and Pirates alike to slam home a missed shot with one hand.
â€śPre-game coach was just telling me to try and crash the offensive glass. Thatâ€™s basically was what I did,â€ť Jackson said. â€śI saw it was above the rim so I just put it in.â€ť
UConn went on to lose to Seton Hall, 80-73, but Jackson provided a bright spot for the hosts.
Jackson, who had been out of action since breaking a bone in his wrist during practice Dec. 21, had seven points and four rebounds off the bench.
He had scored a total of four points and played only 34 minutes for UConn prior to Saturday.
â€śWe wanted to play him probably 15-18 minutes. The fact that we got him to 20 is encouraging. Weâ€™re exciting him to get him out there more,â€ť Hurley said.
â€śHe really doesnâ€™t even know what heâ€™s doing out there yet. Once he gets a feel, and once we get Bouknight back, weâ€™re going to look much more different,â€ť Hurley added.
UConn returns to action Wednesday night at Providence (4 p.m., FS1). Bouknight could be back from his elbow injury for that battle,
UConn is 8-4 overall, including 5-4 in Big East action.
Hurley was called for his second technical foul of the season Saturday, though he thought it was unnecessary.
The officials were concerned with UConnâ€™s players actions on the bench.
â€śThey said it was a bench. That our bench was too boisterous reacting to the call that wasnâ€™t made there. Thatâ€™s a tough one,â€ť Hurley said.
The coach thought the officials could have easily overlooked such a minor infraction. â€śThere was a lot of juice to that game. There was a lot of intensity,â€ť Hurley said. â€śLet it go, man. I mean câ€™mon. You kidding me?â€ť
Of course, Hurley also thought they could have performed better in other areas, too. â€śI thought they missed a few travel calls,â€ť he said.
In honor of Black History Month, UConn played a version of â€śLift Every Voice and Singâ€ť prior to Saturdayâ€™s game. The song, sometimes referred to as the Black National Anthem, was played in addition to the Star-Spangled Banner.
The Seton Hall coaches and players immediately left the Gampel Pavilion floor after Lift Every Voice and Sing was played and were not on the court as the Star-Spangled Banner was played.
Prior to the start of the season, Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said he wasnâ€™t happy that UConn was invited back into the Big East. Willard said it â€śsucksâ€ť and pointed out that he wasnâ€™t given a vote on the matter.
It wasnâ€™t clear whether or not Willard was kidding, but he didnâ€™t clarify his remarks after the fact and Hurley certainly didnâ€™t get the joke.
After Saturdayâ€™s game, however, Willard changed his tone about the Huskiesâ€™ return.
â€śItâ€™s an old school Big East game. Itâ€™s great to have them back in the league,â€ť Willard said. â€śWe like having them back in the league. But more or less, I think the kids know each other. You look at the rosters and most of them are northeast kids all playing AAU basketball together. So to have them back is phenomenal for the league. Itâ€™s phenomenal for everybody. No oneâ€™s at all disappointed whatsoever.â€ť