No. 5 UConn overcomes sloppy start to beat Xavier, 73-37

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Dec 18, 2022; Uncasville, Connecticut, USA; UConn Huskies forward Dorka Juhasz (14) and guard Nika Muhl (10) react after a play against the Florida State Seminoles in the first half at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Dec 18, 2022; Uncasville, Connecticut, USA; UConn Huskies forward Dorka Juhasz (14) and guard Nika Muhl (10) react after a play against the Florida State Seminoles in the first half at Mohegan Sun Arena. / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

CINCINNATI (AP) — Aubrey Griffin scored 19 points and injury-riddled UConn, playing without coach Geno Auriemma due to illness, beat Xavier 73-37 on Thursday night for its sixth straight victory.

Dorka Juhasz added 18 points for the fifth-ranked Huskies (13-2, 6-0 Big East), who finished the game with only seven available players when forward Aaliyah Edwards sustained a foot injury in the first half and did not return after halftime.

Edwards has scored 20 or more points in seven games this season. She finished with four points and three assists on Thursday.

Lou Lopez Senechal had 15 points for UConn, which has been ranked in the AP poll for 554 straight weeks.

UConn has been beset with injuries and illness this season. Former national player of the year Paige Bueckers and freshman Ice Brady are out for the season with knee injuries.

Leading scorer Azzi Fudd is expected to return shortly from a knee injury that has kept her on the bench since early December. She participated in warmups on Thursday as part of her rehab.

Fudd has missed eight games since injuring her knee against Notre Dame on Dec. 4.

Guard Caroline Ducharme missed her second consecutive game in concussion protocol.

Only three Huskies players have played in every game this season.

It was the fourth game Auriemma missed this season due to illness. The Hall of Fame coach also sat out Tuesday’s win at Butler. The school didn’t release a timetable for his return.

Associate head coach Chris Dailey, who has been on Auriemma’s staff since 1985, took over head coaching duties. She is 17-0 when filling in for him.

“It’s been an extremely difficult month for me, and I’ve been feeling under the weather and run down,” Auriemma said in a statement. “I thought I was ready to return, but I need a little more time. I’m going to take a step back to focus on my health and will return when I feel ready.”

His 91-year-old mother, Marsiella Auriemma, died on Dec. 8.

UConn had a sloppy start but rolled after that.

Griffin had nine points, five rebounds and two steals in the first quarter as the Huskies built a 19-5 lead.

UConn, which leads the nation in field goal percentage, started the game 1 of 9, but finished the half 14 of 20 to take a 47-16 lead into halftime. Griffin scored 17 in the half.

Taylor Smith scored 13 points for Xavier (7-8, 0-6), which dropped its fifth straight.

UP NEXT

UConn: Hosts DePaul on Sunday.

Xavier: At No. 24 St. John’s on Sunday.

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