Washington (8-4) at Connecticut (9-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 29, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: XL Center (14,846) -- Hartford, Connecticut. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Washington 6-3, UConn 6-0. Away Record: Washington 1-0, UConn 0-0. Neutral Record: Washington 1-1, UConn 3-2. Conference Record: Washington 0-0, UConn 0-0. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 3-0.
GAMES NOTES: A pair of teams riding win streaks will collide on Saturday night when the Washington Huskies face the Connecticut Huskies at the XL Center.
Washington earned a 67-57 win over Northern Illinois last Saturday to extend its season-long winning streak to four games. The Huskies have spent the majority of their schedule at home where they are 6-3. In just one true road game Washington secured a win over Seattle (87-74). Washington is 8-4 overall and will kick off Pac-12 play next against Washington State.
On the other side, the Huskies come into this contest winners of their last three games after an 88-73 victory over Fordham. The win also came at the XL Center where UConn is 6-0 this season. Overall the Huskies are 9-2 with the losses coming against New Mexico and NC State. This is also the final non- conference game of the season for UConn which takes on Marquette next to begin Big East play.
It is UConn that has come out on top of all three previous meetings. The most recent matchup occurred during the 2006 NCAA Tournament when No. 1 seed UConn topped Washington 98-92 in overtime.
In its win over Northern Illinois, Washington really turned up the heat on defense and held the visiting Huskies to just 39.3 percent shooting. The host Huskies shot just 31.6 percent themselves but nailed nine 3-pointers and connected on 22-of-24 shots from the free throw line. C.J. Wilcox continued to light it up by scoring 22 points.
Wilcox (19.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg) has scored 20 or more points in three straight games and seven of the last eight. Wilcox is also the only player to have scored in double figures in every game this season. Abdul Gaddy (13.2 ppg) and Scott Suggs have each added scoring punch from the backcourt as well. Suggs is a gunner from 3-point range but has struggled of late hitting just 2-of-11 shots from distance in the last two games. Aziz N'Diaye (11.8 ppg, 9.7 rpg) has scored in double figures in a career-long streak of eight games. As a team Washington is scoring 72.4 points per game, while hitting on a healthy 46.1 percent of its shots from the floor.
The backcourt trio of Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier and Omar Calhoun accounted for 62 of UConn's 88 points in the win over Fordham. As a team the Huskies hit 50.8 percent of their shots from the field and scored 35 points off 21 Ram turnovers.
Napier (16.8 ppg, 3.7 apg), Boatright (16.1 ppg, 4.7 apg) and Calhoun (10.9 ppg) give UConn a formidable backcourt. Boatright had a career-high 26 points against Fordham and has scored in double figures in five straight games. Napier has done so in three of the last four contests. DeAndre Daniels (10.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg) is the top option in the frontcourt and the only other player on the team scoring more than 5.2 points per game. UConn has also been scoring at a relatively respectable clip this year (71.5 ppg) by netting 46.0 percent of its shots. The Huskies are also strong on defense, allowing just 62.5 points per game but struggle on the boards (30.3 pg), where they rank 15th in the Big East.
This game will be won by whichever backcourt can dominate. With a home crowd behind them, Napier and company should have the edge.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 73, Washington 65
12/29 10:47:12 ET