UConn’s Hawkins bounces back from illness in Final Four win – Metro US

UConn’s Hawkins bounces back from illness in Final Four win

NCAA Miami UConn Basketball
Connecticut guard Jordan Hawkins shoots over Miami guard Nijel Pack during the second half of a Final Four college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, April 1, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

HOUSTON (AP) — Jordan Hawkins spent most of Friday in bed except when he went to the bathroom to throw up. He barely slept. Yet there was no way he wasn’t going to be ready for Connecticut’s game against Miami in the Final Four.

“I absolutely knew I was going to play,” Hawkins said after the Huskies’ 72-59 win over Miami in Saturday night’s national semifinals. “I didn’t care how I was feeling. Put me on a stretcher, it didn’t matter.”

It wasn’t quite that dramatic, fortunately. But the 6-foot-5 sophomore bounced back from missing Friday’s practice, first by hitting a 3-pointer on the game’s opening possession and then by scoring 10 of his 13 points after halftime as the Huskies rolled into Monday night’s title game.

“Final Four gameday, I wasn’t feeling the best,” he said in the locker room. “But you just have that mentality that you’ve got to go out and win a game for a national championship.”

Hawkins, the team’s No. 2 scorer at 16.3 points per game, hit three 3s in the game and played 25 minutes.

“Could’ve played better,” he said. “Always could play better.”

Hawkins said he isn’t sure if he picked up a stomach bug or had a bout with food poisoning after eating a steak and calamari meal on Thursday night. While his teammates came to NRG Stadium to go through the open public practice Friday, Hawkins was miserable at the hotel trying to recover as quickly as possible.

“I’ve been here nine months now and I have yet to see him miss a practice,” big man Donovan Clingan said. “So for him to miss practice the day before a Final Four game, I knew something was wrong. I know he’s such a dog and cares so much about winning. I had no worries that he was going to be here today.”

Hawkins said it helped to get his legs moving in pregame shootaround, and he felt better the longer he stayed on the court.

That’s why he was already looking ahead to the title game against San Diego State.

“No reason to be concerned on Monday,” he said.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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