UConn (4-3) could desperately use an early season marquee win and will get a chance tonight as it faces No. 2 Duke at the Izod Center, Duke's Northeastern home for basketball where it is 20-1 all-time. Game time is 8:00 p.m. and will be on ESPN.
UConn is 4-3, but is literally 5 seconds -- 2 last second jumpers -- from being 6-1 and ranked facing Duke. The Huskies rebounded for three straight losses to rout Coppin State on Sunday. Head coach Kevin Ollie likes the speed and pace the Huskies were playing at and would like to see an uptempo game against Duke, which is 9-0 to begin the season. UConn's RPI right now is 83, and that would put them out of the NCAAs. That will improve with victories, but a win over a Top 5 program will be a statement with few chances left this season for this type of victory.
The game will be a challenge for the Huskies, who will have to deal with Jahlil Okafor (6-11, 270-pounds) inside and his 18 points a game. The Blue Devils have a sharpshooter in Quinn Cook, and one of the top point guards in the nation in freshman Tyus Jones, who had 22 points in a win over Wisconsin to begin the season. Duke shoots it well from 3-point range (38.2 percent) and have one of the premier big men in the nation. Duke is averaging 80.7 points per game and shoots it at nearly a 54 percent clip.
As far as the Huskies, they can counter with 7-footer Amida Brimah, coming off a 40 point game against Coppin, and senior Ryan Boatright, who is averaging 18,9 points per game. Daniel Hamilton has been good as a freshman at 12.1 points a game and may be the best passer on the team. Injuries and inconsistent play dot the rest of the roster. Rodney Purvis is improving with a bum ankle, but hasn't got going this year. Omar Calhoun has yet to play this season and the Huskies could desperately use his scoring. He could see action tonight.
With Purvis and Calhoun limited and out, Sam Cassell Jr. and Terrence Samuel have struggled to fill the role. Neither is providing the shooting and scoring that the Huskies need. Cassell Jr. is shooting 30.4 percent overall and only 24.2 percent from 3 for 7 ppg. Samuel, is at only 3.3 ppg, and 27.6 percent from the floor and has not hit a 3. That's a problem for a team that was supposed to dominate its scoring on the wing.
That has also put a ton of pressure on Boatright, who is having an outstanding senior season to date minus the one poor game against Yale coming off an ankle sprain. Duke can score (third overall in the nation), so the Huskies are going to need to find that secondary scorer to Boatright to keep pace. Purvis is the first candidate.
|#10||Sam Cassell Jr.||7||2||24.4||7.0||30.4||2.3||1.6||0.9||0.0|