Harvard (13-1) at Connecticut (11-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 8, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gampel Pavilion (10,167) -- Storrs, Connecticut. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Harvard 5-0, UConn 7-1. Away Record: Harvard 4-1, UConn 1-2. Neutral Record: Harvard 3-0, UConn 4-0. Conference Record: Harvard 0-0, UConn 0-2. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 16-2.
GAME NOTES: Returning home from a pair of losses in the Lone Star State, the Connecticut Huskies will attempt to right the ship, as they play host to the Harvard Crimson in a non-league affair at Gampel Pavilion on Wednesday evening.
Kevin Ollie's Huskies opened up American Athletic Conference play with two straight road games at Houston and SMU and came away on the losing end both times, dropping a 75-71 decision to the Cougars, followed by a 74-65 setback to the Mustangs just a few days later. With the setbacks, UConn fell out of the Top 25 and now sits at 11-3 on the year and in a 0-2 hole in the AAC.
Tommy Amaker's Crimson are at it once again. Harvard, the three-time Ivy League champion, is taking aim at a fourth straight league crown. The team has won 13 of its first 14 games, with the lone loss coming at Pac-12 power Colorado (70-62). Since then, the team has reeled off nine straight victories, including a 69-64 road win at Rice last weekend.
UConn has dominated this series, winning 16 of the 18 all-time meetings. This is the fifth straight year that these two teams are matched up against one another.
The Crimson shot a healthy .478 from the floor and went a solid 21-of-28 from the free-throw line in knocking off the Owls this past weekend. Wesley Saunders led four Harvard players in double figures with 18 points. Brandyn Curry tacked on 16 points, while Kyle Casey and Jonah Travis finished with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Harvard is a balanced team that is playing well at both ends of the floor. The team is boasting of a +14.1 scoring margin, averaging 75.8 ppg, while limiting foes to a mere 61.6 ppg. The Crimson are also enjoying positives in both rebounding margin (+5.6) and turnover margin (+2.5). Saunders is a strong player across the board, averaging a team-high 15.7 ppg, to go with 5.3 rpg and 3.8 apg. Casey is next in the scoring column at 11.9 ppg and leads the team in rebounding (6.3 rpg). Siyani Chambers rounds out the team's top scoring threats at 11.0 ppg and is tops on the team in assists (5.1 apg).
The Huskies suffered their second straight loss in Texas due to a poor shooting performance against SMU, where UConn delivered on a mere 36.7 percent from the field. Ryan Boatright led four Huskies in double figures with 15 points in the loss. Shabazz Napier and Lasan Kromah added 12 points each, while DeAndre Daniels checked in with 11 points.
Napier struggled against SMU, connecting on just 2-of-9 shots from the floor. His poor performance was a bit of an anomaly for a playmaker that is shooting .451 from the floor overall and .468 from behind the arc to average 16.0 ppg. Napier, like Harvard's Saunders, contributes across the board, also leading the team in rebounding (6.4 rpg), assists (5.8 apg) and steals (27). Daniels (12.9 ppg) and Boatright (12.8 ppg) add scoring depth for a team that is averaging 75.3 ppg.
The Crimson certainly are talented enough to send UConn to a third straight loss. However, Napier isn't likely to have another bad game. At home in Storrs, expect UConn to find its way back into the win column.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 73, Harvard 70
01/08 11:07:40 ET