For the first time this season, adversity has arrived for No. 4 UConn.
After opening the season with 14 consecutive victories to match their third-best start in program history, the Huskies have dropped back-to-back games and will attempt to prove they are resilient when they return home to Storrs, Conn., for a meeting with Creighton on Saturday.
Although the Huskies (14-2, 3-2 Big East) are in a modest two-game skid, the most recent setback might stick with them for a while.
UConn fell 73-61 to Providence on Wednesday, propelling the Friars to the top of the Big East. It wasn’t long after the final whistle that Providence posted a team photo on social media that featured players holding up four fingers — a seemingly not-so-gentle jab at the Huskies’ ranking.
“It was a very embarrassing loss,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “We pride ourselves on our culture, and to beat us, you’ve got to – we generally lose one possession games … and this is back-to-back games where we really caved in.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do before we play a red-hot Creighton team on Saturday.”
Jordan Hawkins scored 15 points against Providence, while 7-foot-2 freshman Donovan Clingan continued to be impressive, supplying 12 points and 11 rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench.
“I really don’t care about my stat line; we lost, so that’s what’s bothering me most,” Clingan said. “I wish I could’ve done that stuff better to help us win. But it didn’t go our way (Wednesday), and we’ll be back.”
While the Huskies are eager to get back to winning, they’ll have to do so against a Bluejays team that is surging.
Following a six-game losing streak, Creighton (9-6, 3-1) has three straight wins by an average of 19.7 points.
The Bluejays most recently cruised to an 83-61 win over Seton Hall on Tuesday behind 17 points from Ryan Kalkbrenner, 15 from Trey Alexander and 14 apiece from Arthur Kaluma and Ryan Nembhard. Kaluma also finished with a game-high 11 rebounds.
Creighton’s winning streak has coincided with Kalkbrenner’s return from a three-game absence due to an illness. Since coming back, he’s averaged 13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks while shooting 76.2 percent from the field.
“I just think our connectivity has grown through these past three games from where it was when we went on a little skid there,” Kalkbrenner said. “I think that’s just going to be the key for us all season.
“Sometimes we won’t hit shots, but being connected is what’s going to keep us in those games when we don’t hit shots. So that’s going to be the key for us all year, not just the upcoming road stand. … If we want to win the games we want to win, we got to do that.”
Following their trip to Storrs, the Bluejays will head to Cincinnati for a meeting with Xavier next Wednesday before returning home to face Providence on Jan. 14.
Saturday will mark the sixth all-time meeting between Creighton and the Huskies. The Bluejays have won all five matchups so far.
–Field Level Media