Connecticut (15-5) at St. John's (14-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 6, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,033) -- New York, New York. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: UConn 10-1. St. John's 10-3. Away Record: UConn 2-2, St. John's 4-3. Neutral Record: UConn 3-2, St. John's 0-2. Conference Record: UConn 5-3, St. John's 6-4. Series Record: St. John's leads, 34-28.
GAMES NOTES: Led by reigning Big East Player of the Week Shabazz Napier the Connecticut Huskies invade Madison Square Garden to square off with the St. John's Red Storm in Big East action Wednesday night.
Last week the Huskies got locked in a pair of overtime battles but managed to secure wins in both contests. The most recent was a 69-64 win over South Florida that was the third straight for the Huskies, who are 15-5 through the first 20 games of the season, while managing a 5-3 mark against Big East foes.
As for the Red Storm, they were dropped on the road against Georgetown, 68-56, which ended a five-game winning streak. The loss moved the Red Storm to a 14-8 ledger on the season, dropping its conference record to 6-4 which has it behind the Huskies in the league standings by winning percentage.
These two conference foes have split the last four meetings with UConn grabbing an 83-69 victory in the most recent matchup last season. St. John's leads the all-time series, 34-28.
Napier hit back-to-back 3-pointers to open overtime against South Florida and effectively put the Huskies ahead for good. In the game UConn managed to overcome an 18.5 percent shooting effort in the first half by outscoring the Bulls 27-18 from beyond the arc and owning a 26-14 edge from the free-throw line.
The weekly honor for Napier was well deserved after the junior guard hit 57.8 percent of his shots in the two games, scoring a combined 42 points to go with 10 rebounds and seven assists. Napier (17.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.0 apg) has been versatile all season while serving as the lead scorer on the Huskies guard- heavy attack. Fellow backcourt members Ryan Boatright (16.1 ppg, 4.5 apg) and Omar Calhoun (10.7 ppg) have provided additional offensive punch while each of the three has managed more than a steal per game. DeAndre Daniels (10.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg) represents the best of a shallow pool of frontcourt contributors. That lack of interior presence has the Huskies ranked last in the conference in rebounds (32.2 pg).
After scoring at least 71 points in its four previous games, St. John's had its lowest point total since the beginning of January against Georgetown. The Red Storm shot at just a 31.7 percent rate in the game overall, being outscored in the paint (32-18) and from 3-point range (27-12).
Consistency on the offensive end has eluded the Red Storm. For the season the Red Storm is ranked just 10th in the Big East in both points per game (68.3) and field-goal percentage (.432). Luckily the Red Storm have done a great job on the defensive end using their length and athleticism to hold teams to less than 40 percent shooting by blocking the most shots not only in the Big East but the nation (8.0 bpg). Leading that effort is Chris Obekpa (3.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.5 bpg) who hasn't added much on offense but has been an absolute monster protecting the rim. D'Angelo Harrison (18.9 ppg) and JaKarr Sampson (14.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg) pick up the offensive slack as the team's best two scorers.
With its ability to protect the interior the Huskies will have a hard time penetrating and getting good looks. That could force UConn into too many jump shots giving the Red Storm an opening to grab a crucial win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: St. John's 70, Connecticut 66
02/06 10:36:29 ET