Stanford (7-2) at (10) Connecticut (9-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 18, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: XL Center (16,291) -- Hartford, Connecticut. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Stanford 5-1, UConn 6-0. Away Record: Stanford 1-0, UConn 0-0. Neutral Record: Stanford 1-1, UConn 3-0. Conference Record: Stanford 0-0, UConn 0-0. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: Following a 12-day break from action, the 10th-ranked Connecticut Huskies get back to work, as they welcome the Stanford Cardinal to the XL Center, for a non-conference matchup on Wednesday evening.
Kevin Ollie's Huskies are one of just a handful of unbeatens left this season. The team has had some close calls along the way with narrow wins over Indiana (59-58) and Florida (65-64), but have come out on top in all nine games played thus far, including a 95-68 drubbing of Maine on Dec. 6, prior to exams week.
Johnny Dawkins' Cardinal will be facing their toughest opponent to date. Stanford has won seven of its first nine games on the season, with the two losses coming to BYU and Pittsburgh. The team has strung together back-to-back impressive wins since the loss to the Panthers, blowing out South Dakota State (92-60) and most recently, UC Davis (83-56).
Connecticut has won all four previous meetings with Stanford, with the last coming in the 2003 NCAA Tournament, an 85-74 decision in Spokane.
Stanford is one of the most balanced an efficient offensive teams in the nation, as the Cardinal are shooting .504 from the floor overall (13th nationally), .419 from 3-point range (16th nationally) and posting 81.9 ppg (37th nationally). Four of the team's five starters are averaging double figures, led by guard Chasson Randle's 18.2 ppg. Anthony Brown can fill up the basket as well from the perimeter at 16.3 ppg, while strong frontcourt play comes in the form of Dwight Powell (15.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Josh Huestis (11.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg).
The Cardinal scorched the nets in the lopsided win over UC Davis last time out, connecting on 58.5 percent from the field overall, including a 55-percent clip from behind the arc (11-of-20). Randle once again led the charge at the offensive end with 16 points. Brown, Huestis and Powell weren't far behind, each putting in 15 points. Powell completed a double-double with a game-high 10 rebounds. He also doled out a team-best six assists in the win.
UConn would have no problem turning this game into a track meet, as the Huskies have excelled offensively this year, averaging 78.1 ppg on .491 shooting. Connecticut has thrived from long range and came into the week leading the nation in 3-point accuracy at 46.5 percent and ranking 13th in 3- pointers made (8.9 per game). Senior guard Shabazz Napier has played at an All-American level thus far. The 6-foot-1 veteran is shooting 50 percent from the floor and leads UConn in scoring (15.3 ppg), rebounding (7.0 rpg), assists (5.9 apg) and steals (19). DeAndre Daniels is converting at a high rate as well (.516) and adds 13.8 ppg up front, while Ryan Boatright (12.0 ppg), Niels Giffey (9.8 ppg) and Omar Calhoun (9.3 ppg) bolster a strong offensive attack.
The Huskies jumped all over the Black Bears early, taking a 54-31 lead into halftime after shooting a sizzling 56.3 percent from the floor over the first 20 minutes of action. Napier was quiet in the win, netting just seven points and dishing out eight assists, but Ollie went to his bench early, with no starter playing more than 26 minutes in the game, including Napier, who was on the floor for just 22 minutes. Boatright led the team in scoring with 17 points. Daniels and Calhoun were right behind with 16 points each, while Giffey added 12 off the bench.
Traveling across the country for this one, Stanford will be fighting an uphill battle against a well-rested UConn team. The Huskies might start slow, but Napier will find a way to shake off any rust from a long layoff and lead UConn to another victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 76, Stanford 70
12/18 10:35:41 ET