Connecticut (17-11) at Providence (14-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, February 28th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dunkin' Donuts Center (12,993) -- Providence, Rhode Island. Television: SNY. Home Record: UConn 12-4, Providence 10-6. Away Record: UConn 3-6, Providence 4-7. Neutral Record: UConn 2-1, Providence 0-2. Conference Record: UConn 7-9, Providence 3-13. Series Record: UConn leads 42-27.
GAMES NOTES: With their NCAA Tournament hopes hanging by a thread, the Connecticut Huskies will head to the Dunkin' Donuts Center for Big East bout with the Providence Friars this evening.
After ending a remarkable season with a national title a year ago, Connecticut fell back to Earth this season managing just a 17-11 overall record and a pedestrian 7-9 mark in league play. Adding to the problems has been the poor health of coach Jim Calhoun, who underwent surgery on his back on Monday. The Huskies haven't been able to put a win streak together since opening the year with two stretches of at least five wins that pushed them to 12-1 overall. The team has spiraled downward since, Connecticut played tough against No. 2 Syracuse on Saturday but dropped the decision 71-69. On Saturday UConn finishes up the season at home against Pittsburgh.
Connecticut leads the all-time series between these clubs with a 42-27 mark against Providence. This will be the first meetings between the squads this year.
Providence also had a nice start to the season and went 11-2 to open the year. The Friars were unable to keep up that pace and have since fallen to 14-15 overall, including an ugly 3-13 mark in the Big East. The Friars kept themselves out of the conference cellar on Saturday, posting a 73-71 road victory against DePaul, which snapped a five-game losing streak. Providence wraps up the regular season on Friday with a road game against Notre Dame.
On its home floor, Connecticut fell behind 43-29 at the half against conference powerhouse Syracuse but stormed back to make the game interesting before falling by a 71-69 final. The Huskies were never able to take a lead in the second period, shooting 40.3 percent from the floor in the game.
What has really been derailing Connecticut this season has been its lack of offensive firepower. The defending champs are scoring a meager 68.6 points per game, ranking 11th in the Big East. The team has still played well defensively allowing 63.8 points per contest. Jeremy Lamb has followed up a solid freshman season as the focal point for the Huskies this season with Kemba Walker moving on to the NBA. Lamb leads the team in scoring (17.9 ppg) and managed to put in 19 points against Syracuse. The team's strength remains in the backcourt with Shabazz NApier (12.3 ppg, 5.8 apg) and Ryan Boatright (10.4 ppg). Freshman center Andre Drummond (10.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg) has been one of the better front court players in the conference this season and played one of his best games of the seasons by pouring in 17 points and pulling 14 rebounds which tied a career high.
Providence went back and forth with DePaul on Saturday but sealed the game thanks to the play of LaDontae Henton who put the team ahead 73-71 with three seconds remaining in regulation and then blocked a potential game-winner from the Blue Demons.
The Friars are a superior scoring team than the Huskies but only by a slim margin as they put in 69.5 points per game. On defense Providence has not had as dominant a team allowing 68.7 points per game to its opponents. Henton didn't just play well in the final seconds on Saturday but throughout the game posting a double-double with game-highs in points (24) and rebounds (15). The freshman forward (14.0 ppg, 8.6 ppg) is one of four prolific scorers that power the Friar attack. Junior guard Vincent Council (16.4 ppg, 7.3 apg) has been the team's focal point and has put together one of the better season by any player in the conference. Council is the team's leading assist man this year and scored 14 points and dished out 11 assists on Saturday. Bryce Cotton (14.4 pg) and Gerard Coleman (13.5 ppg) are the other prolific scorers for the Friars who have very little depth besides those four with no player averaging more than 6.6 points per game.
Connecticut cannot afford another loss on the season and may need another long run in the conference tournament if it hopes to save its season. Providence has been a solid team at home this year (10-6) and might just be the final road block for the Huskies' postseason chances.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Providence 71, Connecticut 69
02/28 10:49:45 ET
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