Connecticut (12-4) at Pittsburgh (14-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 19, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Petersen Events Center (12,508) -- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: UConn 8-1, Pitt 10-2. Away Record: UConn 1-1, Pitt 2-1. Neutral Record: UConn 3-2, Pitt 2-1. Conference Record: UConn 2-2, Pitt 2-3. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 32-28.
GAME NOTES: Kevin Ollie makes his first trip to the Petersen Events Center as a head coach when his Connecticut Huskies tangle with the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday in a Big East Conference showdown.
Pitt and Connecticut meet for the 61st time in series history. UConn holds a 32-28 all-time advantage in the series which dates back to Dec. 28, 1949. Pitt is 5-1 overall and has claimed each of the last three meetings against UConn at the Petersen Events Center.
Ollie's Huskies will be looking to bounce back from the 73-58 trouncing they experienced on Wednesday courtesy of the top-ranked Louisville Cardinals. The setback concluded a two-game winning streak which consisted of triumphs over DePaul and Notre Dame and dropped the team to a 12-4 overall record. UConn held the advantage early on over the No. 1 team in the country and led by as many as 10 in the first half, but the Cardinals heated up to knock down 60.7 percent of their field goal attempts after the break to overcome the deficit and coast to a comfortable lead.
UConn shot just 35.9 percent from the field after halftime as it dropped to 2-2 in the Big East. Omar Calhoun poured in a team-best 20 points, but he also committed six turnovers. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright combined for 23 points and 12 assists in the loss. The cold shooting spell was unusual for the Huskies, who rank seventh in the conference in scoring offense at 71.6 ppg. Defensively, the Huskies rank in the bottom half of the conference with 64.4 points allowed per tilt. The crafty Napier (17.1 ppg, 4.1 apg, 2.1 spg) and speedy Boatright (15.8 ppg, 4.6 apg) give Ollie one of the best backcourt tandems in the nation. Sophomore forward DeAndre Daniels is the leading forward with 10.9 points and 4.7 boards per game and Calhoun is also a reliable contributor with 10.7 ppg.
Pitt is coming off a 58-43 victory over Villanova at The Pavilion, its second decision in three appearances. Jamie Dixon's squad is much improved from last season, as it owns a 14-4 overall record. It is just 2-2 in Big East play thanks to losses in its first two league games versus Cincinnati and at Rutgers. Although the Panthers are the best defensive team in the conference with only 53.6 points allowed per contest, they are also one of the better offensive units as well with 72.3 ppg.
The Panthers may find it easier to fill it up if Trey Zeigler stays hot. The junior guard, who scored over 1,000 points in his first two seasons at Central Michigan, lifted the team past Villanova with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting off the bench, his best as a Panther. If it was just a fluke, Pitt will be fine with Talib Zanna posting 12.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Tray Woodall has also stood out with 10.6 points and 5.6 assists per game. Freshman center Steven Adams will be a factor versus UConn, as the Huskies lack a defender capable of matching the blue chip recruit physically.
UConn always has a puncher's chance due to its electrifying backcourt that can fill it up in a hurry. The Panthers are one of the best in the land at slowing the tempo to frustrate their opposition. The turnover prone UConn backcourt will need to limit its miscues to give the visitors a chance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pittsburgh 62, Connecticut 55
01/19 10:37:10 ET
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