Houston (11-9) at Connecticut (16-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 30, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gampel Pavilion (10,167) -- Storrs, Connecticut. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Houston 8-3, UConn 10-2. Away Record: Houston 2-4, UConn 3-2. Neutral Record: Houston 1-2, UConn 3-0. Conference Record: Houston 3-4, UConn 4-3. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams riding opposing streaks get together on Thursday night, as the Houston Cougars come calling on the Connecticut Huskies.
The two teams kicked off the brand new American Athletic Conference slate against each other on New Year's Eve in Texas, with the Cougars prevailing in a 75-71 final.
Fast forward to the present, and Houston is hoping to earn the sweep tonight and put the brakes on a two-game losing streak in the process. The Cougars were downed at home by SMU last Sunday, 75-68, and they now head out on the road where they are just 2-4 this season. Overall, UH has lost four of its last five decisions.
Connecticut actually dropped its first two AAC contests, as it fell to SMU five days after the setback to Houston. Since then however, the Huskies have won five of six matchups, including the last two against Temple (90-66) and Rutgers (82-71). UConn is 10-2 at home this season, with its two setbacks coming against formidable foes in Stanford (53-51 on Dec. 18) and Louisville (76-64 on Jan. 18).
Houston's win late last month was its first in three all-time meetings with the Huskies.
In Houston's recent loss to SMU, Danuel House came off the bench to net 22 points, nailing four of the team's eight 3-pointers, but that effort couldn't make up for the fact that the Cougars committed 16 turnovers and suffered a 27-16 deficit in points from the foul line. TaShawn Thomas was the only UH starter to score in double figures, as he actually logged a double-double consisting of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Nic Moore led the Mustangs with 28 points.
Thomas is averaging 16.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game to pace the Cougars in both categories, and help comes from House (13.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Jherrod Stiggers (10.2 ppg). From a team perspective, Houston is putting up just a shade more than it allows (70.4 to 69.1 ppg), and it is currently in the red in both rebounding (-0.5) and turnovers (-0.4). The Cougars are narrowly outshooting the opposition both from the field overall (.451 to .425) and from 3-point range (.358 to .345).
Shabazz Napier continued his assault of opposing teams in UConn's recent win over Rutgers, as he went 7-of-18 from the floor and 10-of-11 from the free- throw line to finish with 26 points. Ryan Boatright added a dozen more, while Amida Brimah tacked on 10 of his own for the Huskies, who made good on 48.1 percent of their total shots, while holding the Scarlet Knights to 40.4 percent. UConn nearly tripled Rutgers in points in the paint (34-12).
Napier is making a strong case for AAC Player of the Year as he has a stat line of 17.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists and nearly two steals per outing. The Huskies have two others netting double figures on a consistent basis (DeAndre Daniels and Boatright), but make no mistake, this is Napier's show. Overall, UConn is lighting up the scoreboard for 75.9 ppg on the strength of its 41.3 percent showing from 3-point range, and it has performed very well at the defensive end in yielding only 66.0 ppg behind a 39.2 percent shooting effort.
The Cougars aren't about to roll over and play dead, but the Huskies have revenge on their minds and will put forth maximum effort at home in an attempt to keep the good times rolling.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 72, Houston 64
01/30 10:32:26 ET