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UCONN 101, ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF 63

Southborough’s Alex Karaban erupts for 26 points as No. 5 UConn rolls past Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Alex Karaban salutes one of his six made 3-pointers.Jessica Hill/Associated Press

STORRS, Conn. — UConn coach Dan Hurley got a chance to give his team a little mental breather and evaluate the bench on Saturday.

Southborough’s Alex Karaban scored a career-high 26 points to lead the No. 5 Huskies to a 101-63 rout of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the last game they’ve scheduled this season against mid-major competition.

Tristen Newton scored 16 points, Cam Spencer had 15, and Donovan Clingan added 11 points and blocked three shots for the Huskies (9-1), who shot 56 percent from the floor.

The game came in the midst of a challenging stretch for UConn, which was coming off a loss at No. 2 Kansas and a win over No. 9 North Carolina at Madison Square Garden. The Huskies head back on the road this week for a game against No. 7 Gonzaga in Seattle.

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“You can't play 31 heavyweight championship fights,” Hurley said.

Rashad Williams had 23 points to lead Pine Bluff (4-7) and Kylen Milton added 10.

UConn led 45-33 at intermission and extended that in the second half, taking its first 20-point lead at 62-42 on a follow layup off an offensive rebound by Karaban, who played at Algonquin as a freshman before transferring to New Hampton and IMG Academy. The Huskies’ first 30-point lead came on a 3-point play by Stephon Castle.

UConn finished 13 of 28 from 3-point range. The Huskies were led by Spencer, who hit 5-of-6 shots from behind the arc. Karaban made 6 of 9, after going 4 for 16 over the last two games.

“It felt really good to see the ball go in with my shot,” Karaban said. “Just having that confidence back and to know that I'm a great shooter.”

Despite being heavy underdogs, Pine Bluff stayed with the Huskies through much of the first 20 minutes, leading 18-17 midway through the half. There were outrebounding the Huskies 20-17 at the break, before being outrebounded, 22-8, in the second half.

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“Our guys really fought hard on that defensive end, fought hard as far as boxing them out and things of that nature," said Pine Bluff coach Solomon Bozeman. "So super excited with the way we started the game.”

UConn led 33-31 with just over 2½ minutes left in the first half before closing on a 12-2 run, which was highlighted by a block from Clingan that led to a fast-break layup from Solomon Ball on the other end.

The Huskies outscored the Golden Lions 56-30 in the second half. They held UAPB 23 points under its season average of 86 points.

UConn's freshmen scored 25 points, led by Ball's nine points and seven each from Stephon Castle and Jaylin Stewart, who made 3 of 4 shots.

“That earned some trust in the staff . . . and trust of his teammates,” Hurley said of Stewart. “He becomes a guy who can now get into the rotation coming out of today.”

UConn has not lost a nonconference home game since falling to St. Joseph’s in November 2019.

The Huskies head to Washington to face No. 7 Gonzaga on Friday night in a rematch of last season’s West Regional final.