No. 2 UConn Upset by No. 22 Xavier 83-73

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 31, 2022

CINCINNATI, OHIO - DECEMBER 31: Jordan Hawkins #24 of the Connecticut Huskies dribbles the ball while being guarded by Jack Nunge #24 of the Xavier Musketeers in the first half at the Cintas Center on December 31, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Connecticut is unbeaten no more.

The second-ranked Huskies suffered their first defeat of the 2022-23 men's college basketball season Saturday, losing 83-73 to No. 22 Xavier at Cintas Center in Cincinnati.

Xavier Basketball @XavierMBB

๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™ž๐™จ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ฎ๐™š๐™–๐™ง ๐™ค๐™›๐™› ๐™ง๐™ž๐™œ๐™๐™ฉ ๐ŸŽ‰<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LetsGoX?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LetsGoX</a> <a href="https://t.co/LD0LMYHZaw">pic.twitter.com/LD0LMYHZaw</a>

Zach Freemantle led the way for the Musketeers with a double-double (16 points and 11 rebounds), while Jack Nunge and Colby Jones dropped 15 and 16 points, respectively. Jerome Hunter came off the bench to score 15 as well, including a 9-of-9 effort from the charity stripe.

UConn led 42-41 at halftime but found itself having to play from behind for much of the second half. Andre Jackson Jr. tied the game at 71-71 with 4:10 remaining, and a steal by Jordan Hawkins gave the Huskies a chance to go ahead.

However, an offensive foul on Hawkins immediately ceded possession back to Xavier, and the Musketeers capitalized with a layup by Jones. They didn't look back from there as their defense suffocated UConn.

The Huskies went 11-of-31 from the field and 5-of-18 from beyond the arc in the second half.

Joe Arruda @joearruda9

Xavier had five different players finish in double-digits and scored 40 points in the paint, 18 off turnovers. UConn took and missed six straight threes in the final 90 seconds.

Jackson had a season-high 14 points and flirted with a triple-double, totaling 10 rebounds and eight assists. The junior guard struggled to find his shot, though, missing eight of his 12 three-point attempts.

Xavier also outscored UConn 40-28 in the paint despite Huskies star Adama Sanogo pouring in a game-high 18 points.

It's too early to call this a season-defining victory for the Musketeers, but it's a sign of the progress the program has already made in head coach Sean Miller's first season back. A statement win was inevitable.

Brad Evans @NoisyHuevos

Love/hate Sean Miller all you want given his sketchy past, but dude can seriously coach. Xavier isn't the staunchest defensive team, but if flows beautifully on the offensive end. Experience, too, is invaluable. <br><br>X-men are a fun watch. Enormous W against UConn.

Jon Rothstein @JonRothstein

Sean Miller spent his year in between Arizona and Xavier studying different offensive schemes (Gonzaga, Arizona under Tommy Lloyd, Purdue) to become a better offensive coach --- it's working.<br><br>Xavier is on pace to average more PPG than any other team that Miller has ever coached. <a href="https://t.co/0vnQjUw0B2">https://t.co/0vnQjUw0B2</a>

John Fanta @John_Fanta

At PK85, Xavier showed lots of flashes. Musketeers competed with Duke and had a late lead on Gonzaga. You could feel things coming together. They've steadily gotten better, and today, Sean Miller got a big-time contribution from Jerome Hunter off the bench. What a win for X.

Xavier and Connecticut will meet again on Jan. 25 in Storrs. That was already looking like a juicy matchup with the Musketeers positioning themselves as perhaps the stiffest competition to the Huskies for the Big East regular-season title.

Following Saturday, the stakes for that contest have only increased.