Fordham (2-8) at Connecticut (8-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, December 21, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: XL Center (16,294) -- Hartford, Connecticut. Television: SNY. Home Record: Fordham 0-1, UConn 5-0. Away Record: Fordham 0-5, UConn 0-0. Neutral Record: Fordham 2-2, UConn 3-2. Conference Record: Fordham 0-0, UConn 0-0. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 11-10.
GAME NOTES: The Fordham Rams will try to pick up their first true road win of season when they journey to the XL Center for a non-conference duel with the Connecticut Huskies.
The Rams ended a five-game losing slide on Saturday with a 63-60 decision over Princeton at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Fordham's losing streak included setbacks in away games at Harvard, Lehigh, and St. John's. Coach Tom Pecora's team enters with a 2-8 record as its only other victory came over Penn on Nov. 19. The Rams are having trouble winning due to their lack of production on the offensive end as they are averaging only 62.1 ppg. They are not much better on defense as opponents are scoring 72.5 points per contest on 43.3 percent shooting from the field.
Kevin Ollie's Huskies have performed well under the first-year head coach, as they are 8-2 after completing an 84-50 rout of Maryland-Eastern Shore on Monday. UConn's only setbacks came on neutral courts to the New Mexico Lobos and NC State Wolfpack. It has earned victories over Michigan State, Wake Forest, Quinnipiac, and Harvard. The Huskies are decent on both ends of the floor as they average 69.9 ppg on 45.5 percent shooting, while holding opponents to 61.4 ppg on under 40 percent shooting.
These schools have not played since 1999, but the all-time series is very close with UConn holding a narrow 11-10 lead. The Huskies have won their last five games versus Fordham, but the Rams came out on top in 10 of the 15 bouts between 1954 and 1968.
Fordham began to click its last time out versus Princeton as it shot 40 percent from the floor, converted 17-of-19 at the charity stripe, and held a 39-28 edge in the rebounding battle. The Rams trailed down the stretch until Branden Frazier made a go-ahead layup with eight seconds left. Fordham then came up with a clutch defensive stop and sank its free throws to seal the deal. Frazier, a junior guard from Brooklyn, finished with a team-high 19 points and senior forward Chris Gaston added 16 points and five boards. Sophomore Ryan Canty recorded an impressive double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds. Frazier is the team's leader with 15.6 points and 4.6 assists per game. Gaston, who missed the previous six games before the win over the Tigers with a knee injury, is tallying 12.5 points and 7.8 boards a game.
UConn was dominant its last time out versus UMES, converting 66 percent of its field goal attempts including 10-of-19 from beyond the arc. It also held its opponent under 40 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers. The Huskies' strength is their backcourt made up of Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, and Omar Calhoun, who helped them assist 21 of their 33 makes from the field against UMES. The three guards are combining for 4.5 makes from beyond the arc per contest. Napier (16.6) and Boatright (15.1) are the team's top two scorers and are also combining for 7.8 assists per game. Calhoun is adding 10.3 ppg and forward DeAndre Daniels (10.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg) is the top option inside.
The Huskies would not be a national contender if they were eligible for postseason play, but they are a solid team despite losing a few players to transfers over the offseason and transitioning to a rookie head coach. Fordham took a step in the right direction its last time out, but it faced a Princeton team that was without its best player. The Rams are better with Gaston in the lineup, but he does not make them a threat to take down UConn.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 73, Fordham 60
12/21 10:32:42 ET