Connecticut (13-5) at Providence (10-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 31, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dunkin' Donuts Center (12,400) -- Providence, Rhode Island. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: UConn 9-1. Providence 8-3. Away Record: UConn 1-2, Providence 1-5. Neutral Record: UConn 3-2, Providence 1-2. Conference Record: UConn 3-3, Providence 2-6. Series Record: UConn leads, 39-25.
GAMES NOTES: In an All-New England affair at the Dunkin' Donuts Center the Connecticut Huskies and the Providence Friars will collide in Big East Conference action Thursday night.
In their last time out the Huskies bounced back from consecutive losses by taking down Rutgers, 66-54. With the win UConn improved its overall record to 13-5, while evening its record in conference play at 3-3. This is just the fourth true road test of the season for UConn which has just a single win in the previous three. UConn will host the South Florida Bulls at Gampel Pavilion next.
An 81-71 loss to Marquette last Saturday dropped Providence to 10-10 this season and to just 2-6 in league play. That mark in league play has the Friars ahead of just DePaul and South Florida in the conference standings. Providence has lost consecutive contests and three of their last four games but a return home could help as the Friars are 8-3 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. Providence hits the road to face Villanova in its next matchup.
These teams have split the season series in each of the last two years. Providence has actually had the upper hand most recently with wins in five of the last seven outings, however UConn leads the all-time series, 39-25.
UConn limited Rutgers to less than 40 percent shooting and outscored the Scarlet Knights 16-5 from the free-throw line last Sunday. The Huskies also had a 14-9 edge in points off turnovers and outrebounded Rutgers by a 37-33 margin.
The Huskies are a team that relies heavily on production from the backcourt. Shabazz Napier (16.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.1 apg) and Ryan Boatright (15.9 ppg, 4.6 apg) have made that a strength for the Huskies this season as the pair rank in the top 15 in the conference in scoring and assists. In the win against Rutgers the duo combined for 34 points and nine assists. Omar Calhoun (10.7 ppg) has provided additional spark on the perimeter. DeAndre Daniels (10.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg) is the most productive frontcourt contributor. As a team UConn is scoring 70.7 points per game, while shooting a healthy 45.9 percent from the field but with such little depth in the paint the Huskies rank 14th in the conference in rebounds (32.2 pg).
Despite four players scoring in double figures Providence just couldn't knock off Marquette. The Friars managed to connect on 44.2 percent of their shots in the contest but that paled in comparison to the 49.2 percent effort from the Golden Eagles who also outscored the Friars 44-24 in the paint.
Providence is scoring a more modest 68.4 points per game, while shooting among the bottom three teams in the Big East (.422 FG percentage). On defense the Friars have managed to put forth steady success, allowing 64.2 points per game on 41.7 percent shooting but they have been lit up for at least 70 points in five of their nine conference games. Providence is lucky enough to have the services of Big East leading scorer Bryce Cotton (21.7 ppg, 3.1 apg). Cotton had a streak of six straight games with at lest 20 points ended against Marquette, as he managed 19 points. Providing additional support for the Friars are double-figure scorers LaDontae Henton (14.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and Kadeem Batts (14.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and point guard Vincent Council (9.9 ppg, 6.7 apg).
In this game the Friars have a clear advantage on the interior with Batts and Henton. If those two can stay out foul trouble and Council and Cotton can hang with Napier and Boatright the Friars could be in line for a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Providence 71, Connecticut 69
01/31 10:36:26 ET