UConn survives, beating Auburn in 2OT in Battle 4 Atlantis

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Shot after shot, No. 19 Auburn and No. 22 Connecticut went back and forth against each other, seemingly unaware of the pressure of a shrinking clock in an increasingly long game in Battle 4 Atlantis.

It may have been an early season tournament, but it felt like a March-like thriller – right up until the second overtime when Tyler Polley and Adama Sonogo helped the Huskies finally wrestle a 115-109 double overtime victory in Wednesday’s first round.

“Pretty good tips for November, right?” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.

In fact, the first game with two extensions in the event’s 10-year history had plenty: big shots, clutch responses, frantic sequences, even players diving to the floor for a loose return in the closing seconds of a two-possession game with the result decided.

Grueling? Chaotic? Exciting? UConn’s coach Dan Hurley would choose all of the above.

“Now you have a chance to sit back and think about how many different ways it could have gone the other way in regulation, or really from the five-minute mark all the way to the second extension,” Hurley said. “Just a lot of things that happened that were amazing, stunning.”

UConn forward Tyler Polley is congratulated by coach Dan Hurley after scoring a 3-pointer against Auburn in the second overtime of an NCAA college basketball game on Paradise Island, Bahamas, on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.
UConn forward Tyler Polley is congratulated by coach Dan Hurley after scoring a 3-pointer against Auburn.

Polley scored 24 points in his career and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:58 left on the second overtime, and had also beaten a 3-pointer for the lead with 12.5 seconds left of the regulation. I finished 6 out of 9 from the 3-point range.

Sanogo had 30 points of the best in his career and stayed on the floor despite playing critical late minutes with four fouls for the Huskies (5-0), who blew up a 15-point lead in regulation and squandered a lead late in the first overtime . But the two combined for UConn’s first 14 points of the second overtime when UConn finally pushed forward for good.

“I definitely thought we could have won the game several times,” said RJ Cole, who had 24 points for UConn. “They would not go without a fight and we knew that. So we kept just talking to each other and continuing to push, knowing that it will not be easy and we will have to fight for this one to win.”

UConn guard RJ Cole celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during a match against Auburn in Battle 4 Atlantis 2021 at the Imperial Arena.
UConn guard RJ Cole celebrates with teammates after scoring during a match against Auburn.

KD Johnson and best rookie Jabari Smith had their own huge performances for the Tigers (3-1). Johnson scored 23 of his 27 points in his career after halftime, including driving baskets in the final seconds of regulation and the first overtime that extended the game.

“I was just trying to do anything to get a W,” Johnson said. “I was not really focused on anything, how it went. I was just trying to win.”


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