Donovan Clingan stats vs. Illinois: UConn big man dominates in Huskies’ Elite Eight rout

Illinois coach Brad Underwood pledged to stay the course during Saturday’s Elite Eight battle with UConn, telling the TBS broadcast, “If [Donovan] Clingan has 100 blocks, he has 100 blocks. We’re going to keep going at him.”

In hindsight, it might have been best to revise that strategy.

Clingan tormented Illinois on both ends of the floor in the Huskies’ win, sparking a 9-0 start for UConn and playing a pivotal role in the team’s dominant 30-0 run to turn a close battle into an utter destruction.

The sophomore big man was expected to step up and replace Adama Sanogo in UConn’s frontcourt this season, but an early-season injury led to an extended adjustment period. The Huskies kept winning, however, and Clingan had all the time he needed to settle in. It’s fair to say he’s now settled in.

Here’s a look at Clingan’s excellent performance in UConn’s Elite Eight victory over Illinois.

SN’s MARCH MADNESS HQ
Live NCAA bracket news | TV schedule | Printable PDF

Donovan Clingan stats vs. Illinois

Clingan finished Saturday’s game with 22 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and three steals in just 21 minutes of action. He shot 9-of-13 from the field.

While the stat sheet looks impressive for Clingan, his impact on the game went beyond the box score. The Illini repeatedly tried to get to the basket in the early minutes, only to meet Clingan each time. Underwood’s squad continued to challenge Clingan, perhaps hoping to bait him into foul trouble, but there was never a point that the 20-year-old fell for it.

Illinois’ best offensive stretches came when Clingan was off the floor. By the end of UConn’s 30-0 run to take a 53-23 lead, the Illini had totaled just four points with Clingan on the floor. 

Clingan had a quiet game against San Diego State on Thursday, finishing with eight points and eight rebounds, but he’s largely played the best basketball of his college career in recent weeks. The sophomore recorded eight blocks against Northwestern in the second round and posted 22 points along with 16 rebounds in UConn’s Big East Tournament championship victory two weeks ago.

Any team that has hopes of derailing UConn’s path to a championship in this tournament needs to have an answer for “Cling Kong,” even more than any team that faces Purdue needs to have an answer for Zach Edey. UConn doesn’t necessarily need a major performance from Clingan every night, but the Huskies might just be unstoppable when they get one.

MORE: Why Dan Hurley is Sporting News Coach of the Year

How tall is Donovan Clingan?

If Clingan simply looked bigger than everyone else on the court on Saturday, it’s because he was. Clingan is listed by UConn as 7-2 and 280 pounds. 

Height is an important step toward becoming a dominant rebounder and shot-blocker. Height also doesn’t get the job done all on its own, as some of Clingan’s down games will tell you. He used his size to his advantage all night against Illinois, but his instincts were just as much of a factor.

Saturday night’s result is what happens when a questionable gameplan meets the most complete team in the nation, and one of the best performances of Clingan’s career effectively put the game out of reach for Illinois.

Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *