R.J. Cole scored 25 points and No. 17 UConn survived a challenge from Maryland-Eastern Shore to win 72-63 on Tuesday night.
Tyler Polley added 14 points for the Huskies (7-1), who jumped five spots in the AP Top 25 after a third-place showing over the holiday weekend in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
UConn was sluggish for much of the night against UMES, which entered as a 33-point underdog, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
The Huskies led 39-31 at halftime, but didn’t score for the first 4 minutes of the second half and saw their lead cut to 42-41 on a 3-pointer by Da’Shawn Phillip.
That was as close as the Hawks (2-5) got.
A tip-in by freshman Jordan Hawkins off a missed free throw helped UConn during a 14-5 run that extended their lead to 11 points.
UMES had one more run, cutting the lead to 66-62 on a step-back jumper by Chace Davis, but the Huskies held on.
The Hawks hung with UConn through the first half by hitting 12 of their 24 shots from the floor and outrebounding the Huskies 14-11.
But UMES led just twice, at 11-9 on a 3-pointer by Zion Styles and 15-14 after a layup by Donchevell Nugent.
Tyler Polley’s 3-pointer just before the buzzer sent UConn into the locker room with a 39-31 lead.
Phillip and Mike Mensah each had 12 points and Styles added 11 for UMES.
Maryland-Eastern Shore: UMES, which doesn’t have a starter over 6-foot-5, was outrebounded just 33-30 by UConn.
UConn: The Huskies played without starting guard Tyrese Martin, who was resting a left wrist that he sprained in their win over Auburn in The Bahamas. Center Adam Sanogo (eight points) left the game in the second half and went to the locker room with a trainer.