Loyola-Maryland (4-0) at (13) Connecticut (6-0)
Tuesday, November 26, 7 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: XL Center (16,294) -- Hartford, Connecticut. Television: SNY. Home Record: Loyola 1-0, UConn 3-0. Away Record: Loyola 3-0, UConn 0-0. Neutral Record: Loyola 0-0, UConn 3-0. Conference Record: Loyola 0-0, UConn 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Coming off a narrow victory over Indiana to capture the 2K Sports Classic tournament title, the 13th-ranked Connecticut Huskies return home to play host to the Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds at the XL Center on Tuesday.
Kevin Ollie's Huskies faced their toughest challenge of the season and after 40 minutes of action, came out with a 59-58 win over the Hoosiers at Madison Square Garden last Friday. With the victory, UConn moved to a perfect 6-0 on the season.
G.G. Smith's Greyhounds are also enjoying a strong start to the 2013-14 campaign, having won all four of their bouts thus far, including three road games. Two of the wins have come in overtime, including an 89-83 decision against UMBC last Wednesday.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the hardwood.
Loyola is shooting a modest .438 from the floor this season, but is averaging a steady 80.0 ppg, thanks in large part to the exploits of senior guard Dylon Cormier. The 6-3 veteran has scored over 30 points on three occasions this season and is averaging a robust 29.8 ppg. Jarred Jones has started a game yet, but provides a viable second option offensively, with 14.0 ppg off the bench. The problem Loyola may face against stiffer competition is a lack of depth, as the most reliable scorer after Cormier and Jones is Eric Laster (9.3 ppg).
Cormier was unstoppable against UMBC last time out, hitting 12-of-22 shots from the floor to finish with 34 points. He completed a double-double with 10 rebounds. Loyola, which shot 50 percent from the floor overall, also got offensive contributions from Laster (16 pts), Jones (14 pts) and R.J. Williams (10 pts).
UConn has an All-American candidate leading the charge in the form of senior guard Shabazz Napier. As complete a player as there is in the nation, Napier is shooting over 50 percent from the field, over 62 percent from behind the arc, while boasting of impressive stats across the board, with team-highs in scoring (16.8 ppg), rebounding (7.8 rpg) and assists (7.0 apg). DeAndre Daniels (12.2 ppg) and Ryan Boatright (11.5 ppg) add to the scoring onslaught for a team that nets 77.8 ppg.
In the win over Indiana, Napier took over and willed the Huskies to victory, accounting for almost half of UConn's points, finishing with a game-high 27 points. Boatright was a distant second in the scoring column with nine points in the win, as UConn shot under 40 percent as a team (.396) and overcame 17 turnovers.
Both teams has excelled thus far, but Loyola will be making a huge leap in terms of competition. The battle between Cormier and Napier should be fun to watch, but UConn's depth and athleticism will be the difference in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 84, Loyola Maryland 68
11/26 10:35:36 ET