Connecticut (18-7) at DePaul (11-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Allstate Arena (17,500) -- Rosemont, Illinois. Television: Big East Network, SNY. Home Record: UConn 12-2, DePaul 7-7. Away Record: UConn 3-3, DePaul 4-6. Neutral Record: UConn 3-2, DePaul 0-2. Conference Record: UConn 8-5, DePaul 2-11. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 9-1.
GAME NOTES: The DePaul Blue Demons will try to end their eight-game losing streak to Connecticut as they host the Huskies in a Big East Conference matchup at Allstate Arena on Saturday.
UConn holds a 9-1 all-time series lead over DePaul after its 99-78 rout of the Blue Demons at home on Jan. 8. DeAndre Daniels led the Huskies with a career- high 26 points which he accompanied with eight rebounds. UConn led by 12 points or more for the entire second half despite DePaul's Brandon Young pouring in a career-high 35 points. DePaul played without starters Donnavan Kirk and Charles McKinney, who were suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules.
DePaul has not defeated UConn since the second time they squared off on Jan. 31, 2007. When these squads met earlier this season, UConn connected on 49.3 percent of its field goal tries and outscored DePaul, 21-11, at the charity stripe. The Blue Demons went 5-of-17 from beyond the arc and suffered a devastating, 46-28 loss in the rebounding battle.
Kevin Ollie's Huskies bounced back from a loss to Villanova with a thrilling 73-66 win over Cincinnati on Thursday. Shabazz Napier was unstoppable when it mattered most, scoring 11 of his 27 points in the extra session to secure the team's third victory in four outings. UConn is now 18-7 on the campaign, but just 3-3 in true road tests.
Napier is leading UConn's loaded backcourt with 16.7 points and 4.6 assists per game, while the speedy Ryan Boatright chips in 15.1 points and 4.2 assists per outing. Omar Calhoun and Daniels also own double-digit scoring averages to contribute to the Huskies' team average of 70.7 ppg, which is the fifth best mark in the Big East. UConn's allowed average of 65.2 ppg gives it just the 12th lowest scoring defense in the league, but the Huskies are very good at defending the perimeter, holding their opposition to just 29.5 percent efficiency from 3-point range.
The Blue Demons' 9-4 performance through their non-conference slate did not hold up, as they are just 2-11 in Big East play with four games to go after Saturday. Coach Oliver Purnell's team was handed a 90-66 setback on Wednesday when it visited the Nation's Capital to face Georgetown, just one game after a 75-69 home win over Rutgers.
Young scored 16 points to lead DePaul in its loss to the Hoyas, but Cleveland Melvin went just 4-of-13 from the field to net eight points. The duo is one of the top scoring tandems in the Big East as they combine for 32.9 ppg. Unfortunately, none of the other Blue Demons are scoring in double figures with as much consistency. Melvin also pulls down a team-best 7.3 rebounds per game. In conference action, the Blue Demons have been outscored by an average of 10.2 points per game and outrebounded by 5.5 boards per tilt.
The Blue Demons should be able to compete a little better in round two with the Huskies in their own arena and at full strength. UConn is clearly a superior squad and should be able to sweep the series as long as it avoids an off-night from the floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 77, DePaul 68
02/23 10:38:26 ET