Bryant (1-2) at (2) Connecticut (5-0)
Saturday, November 29th, 1:00 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: Bryant 0-1, UConn 2-0. Away Record: Bryant 0-1, UConn 0-0. Neutral Record: Bryant 0-0, UConn 3-0. Conference Record: Bryant 0-0, UConn 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Following a successful trip to the Caribbean, the second-ranked Connecticut Huskies return home this weekend, as they welcome the Bryant Bulldogs to Hartford for a non-league matchup at the XL Center.
Jim Calhoun's Huskies have certainly looked like their lofty ranking is well deserved, as the team has won all five games on the docket thus far, including earning the Paradise Jam title, with wins over nationally-ranked foes in Miami-Florida (76-63) and Wisconsin (76-57) in the semifinals and championship game, respectively.
The Bulldogs are participating in their first season at the Division I level as an Independent. The team opened the year with a pair of losses to Albany and Columbia, but finally found the win column last time out, beating Quinnipiac, 59-50.
These two teams have played each other in each of the last four years in exhibition games, but this is the first meeting during the regular season.
It was Cecil Gresham's game-high 21 points that led the Bulldogs to a 59-50 victory over Quinnipiac in the consolation game of the Columbia Classic last time out, marking Bryant's first win in Division I play. Gresham was on fire from the floor, converting 7-of-8 shots overall, including 5-of-6 from behind the arc. He was named to the All-Tournament team after averaging 23.0 ppg during the event. Chris Birrell had a solid all-around game to complement Gresham against Quinnipiac, finishing with 10 points, four rebounds and six assists. The Bulldogs lack overall scoring depth, with Gresham's 19.3 ppg accounting for over 30 percent of the total offense (60.0 ppg). He is joined in double figures by Birrell and Barry Latham, who chip in with 10.0 ppg each. The scoring pool however, dries up quickly after that, with the next closest contributor being Jerrann Wright at just 6.0 ppg.
The Huskies have played extremely well at both ends of the floor thus far and are currently enjoying a +21.8 scoring advantage over the opposition. The team is shooting a steady .505 from the floor, leading to 84.2 ppg. Opponents are netting a mere 62.4 ppg, and being held under 40 percent shooting overall (.386). The team has plenty of scoring depth both inside and out, with five players currently boasting double-digit averages, led by junior guard Jerome Dyson's 18.2 ppg. Freshman Kemba Walker has done a a nice job mostly off the bench, adding 15.0 ppg. Senior guards Craig Austrie (10.6 ppg) and A.J. Price (8.5 ppg) provide unparalleled perimeter depth, but the real strength of this team comes down low with center Hasheem Thabeet and forward Jeff Adrien, who are both averaging a double-double. Thabeet is putting up 13.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game and already has 22 blocks on the season. Adrien adds 13.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per outing. In the championship game of the Paradise Jam, Dyson led the way to the title with 21 points. Adrien added 14 points and eight rebounds to the cause, while Walker tallied 12 points and eight boards off the bench.
Bryant got its first-ever Division I win last time out, but the second victory will not occur this weekend. The Huskies are getting it done in every phase of the game right now, and should have no problem blowing this one open early on and cruising to a lopsided victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 91, Bryant 49
11/29 10:32:53 ET