Harvard (4-3) at Connecticut (6-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, December 7, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Harry A. Gampel Pavilion (10,027) -- Storrs, Connecticut. Television: SNY, Big East Net, MASN. Home Record: Harvard 3-1, UConn 3-0. Away Record: Harvard 1-2, UConn 0-0. Neutral Record: Harvard 0-0, UConn 3-2. Conference Record: Harvard 0-0, UConn 0-0. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 15-2.
GAME NOTES: Hoping to avoid back-to-back defeats for the first time this season, the Connecticut Huskies entertain the Harvard Crimson in non- conference action at Gampel Pavilion on Friday night.
The Huskies opened the new season with four straight wins before suffering a loss to New Mexico, but after that the team picked up a couple more victories against teams that in the past would not have been so close in the final numbers. In fact, both Stony Brook and New Hampshire, teams that UConn played at home, lost by less than double figures.
On Tuesday night, the Huskies were in New York City where they bowed to 25th- ranked NC State at Madison Square Garden, 69-65, as part of the Jimmy V Classic.
Meanwhile, the Crimson are enjoying a two-game win streak, after losing three of four, thanks to a 73-64 triumph over Fordham at home last weekend and a 79-63 beating of Boston College on the road three nights ago. With those wins, Harvard moved back over .500 through seven games.
UConn leads the all-time series by a count of 15-2, dating all the way back to the 1921-22 campaign. Last season, when both teams were nationally-ranked, the Huskies posted a 67-53 win as they dropped 25th-ranked Harvard, the first time ever the Crimson had been in the national polls. The last win for Harvard came in 1972 by a score of 80-70.
The Crimson allowed Boston College to shoot 58.1 percent from the floor in their meeting earlier this week, yet somehow the Eagles still found a way to turn that effort into a 16-point home loss. Harvard did manage to force 15 turnovers and hold BC to just 3-of-13 shooting behind the three-point line, which turned the tide in favor of the visitors. Siyani Chambers led the way on offense for Harvard with 21 points, adding seven of the unit's 15 assists, while Wesley Saunders checked in with 18 points and five dishes of his own. Jonah Travis added 14 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the floor and 4-of-4 at the free-throw line. Saunders currently leads the team in scoring through seven games with his 16.1 ppg, accounting for 5.0 rpg and 26 assists which are also among the best the Crimson has to offer. Chambers (12.7 ppg) has been deadly out on the perimeter with 11-of-21 shooting, while Laurent Rivard (11.4 ppg) has converted 20-of-44 from three-point range as well in order to push Harvard to an impressive 42.3 percent accuracy from beyond the arc at this stage.
Leading by as many as 11 in the first half, the Huskies appeared to be well on their way to picking up a win against a nationally-ranked program, but UConn gave up the advantage late in the period and never fully recovered even though it bowed by just three points after Ryan Boatright knocked down a late three- pointer. Boatright finished with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists, but he shot only 2-of-6 out on the perimeter. Shabazz Napier was responsible for a game-high 19 points, connecting on 4-of-9 on the outside, while Enosch Wolf produced 12 points and a team-best nine rebounds in a reserve role. Napier, who has nailed 39.1 percent of his attempts beyond the arc over the course of eight games, leads the way in scoring with 18.6 ppg, while Boatright comes in second with 14.3 ppg and is also first with 38 assists as he continues to keep his teammates involved in the action. A mere 38.9 percent shooter from the floor, Omar Calhoun checks in with 10.1 ppg and is one of three players with at least four rebounds per game, but without a dominant force in the paint the Huskies are being beaten on the glass by an average of almost six per game.
Considering this is a UConn team that is not built in the same fashion as those led by former head coach Jim Calhoun, this might be a rare opportunity for Harvard to make things interesting.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 70, Harvard 66
12/07 10:35:13 ET