STORRS, Conn. -- Saniya Chong is getting a long look from her coaches due to the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's short bench. The Huskies' starting senior guard has had the opportunity to get plenty of fourth-quarter minutes with the game outcome decided.
Top-ranked UConn enters Tuesday night's American Athletic Conference road contest against Cincinnati at Fifth Third Arena (SNY, 7 p.m.) having trailed for 1:37 out of a possible 400 minutes in league play. It has an average margin of victory against AAC foes of 44.0 points.
But Chong knows she has to be as focused at the end as she is in the beginning. She wants to set a good example for her younger teammates and she knows that her coaches, particularly Geno Auriemma, are paying attention.
"Even when we're up a lot of points, the coaches and players will still get mad if we make a turnover or a mistake," Chong said. "We want to do in the game what we do in practice, make sure our offense runs smoothly and everything is smooth."
Chong has taken advantage of her extended minutes. The Ossining, New York, native is averaging career highs of 7.6 points and 4.1 assists in 27.7 minutes. She leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at a school-record pace of 4.26. In the Huskies' 96-50 rout of Tulsa at Gampel Pavilion Sunday, she had 17 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists to no turnovers.
She's done what Auriemma preaches -- don't play to the scoreboard.
"The final score is not really indicative of how the game is. I try never to make it that way, anyway," Auriemma said.
UConn (22-0 overall, 10-0 AAC) has won NCAA records of 97 straight games overall and 35 consecutive road games. The Huskies lead South Florida and Temple by 2½ games in the league race.
The Huskies easy run through the AAC the past three seasons has not cost them when it has come to NCAA tournament play. But through the routs, they want to make sure they're getting better and not getting complacent.
"A lot of it depends on what kind of individuals you have on your team," Auriemma said. "Some players, they just want to win. They aren't interested in getting a lot better. Some players want to do it their way, they aren't interested in really being coached. Coaching means that you look at whatever you're doing constructively. You don't just look at it when it's going bad.
"When you lose, you don't go around and say. 'What did I do poorly?' And when you're winning, you don't just pat yourself on the back until the next game and say, 'I'm great.' You have to be realistic and look at every game, every practice."
UConn has had no problems over the years with Cincinnati. But the Bearcats (14-8, 5-4) are having their best season since they hired Jamelle Elliott away from UConn in 2009. Junior college transfer Shanice Johnson leads Cincinnati in scoring and rebounding while junior guard Ana Owens recently reached the 1,000-point plateau.
The Bearcats, though, have lost three straight and have been off since it dropped a 72-52 decision to South Florida last Wednesday. Tuesday night's game is the only regular season meeting between the teams. They will play once next year in Connecticut.
A UConn win would move Auriemma into sole possession of fourth place, at least temporarily, on the coaches all-time wins list. He currently shares the spot with Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer at 977. The Scarlet Knights return to action Wednesday against Indiana.
NCAA RELEASES TOP 16
UConn, Baylor, South Carolina, and Mississippi State would have held the top four seeds for the NCAA tournament if the event started Monday, as the NCAA Division I women's basketball championship sport committee provided the second of three regular-season top 16 rankings in seed order.
The seeds were set before Monday's games, which included matchups involving eight ranked teams, were played. In Monday's action, Texas topped Baylor, Notre Dame rolled past Louisville, Florida State held off Miami (Florida), and UCLA downed Stanford.
The top four seeds showed no change from when the first rankings were announced on Jan. 23.
"We didn't see a great deal of movement from our first reveal to this one in the top 10, as there were only three losses among that group, with two of those losses coming against teams in the top 10," said Terry Gawlik, chair of the committee and senior associate athletics director at the University of Wisconsin. "It pointed out to the committee how thin the difference is between those top teams and how important every game will be for those teams down the stretch of this season."
The second line of four seeds had Florida State, Notre Dame, Oregon State, and Stanford. Maryland, Washington, Texas, and Duke made up the third line, while Louisville, UCLA, North Carolina State, and DePaul made up the fourth line.
The top four seeds in each of the NCAA tournament four regionals host first- and second-round games.
The committee will release a third top 16 on Feb. 20.
Selection Monday is set for March 13 at 7 p.m.
Two players on ESPNHoopgurlz's Class of 2020 watch list made unofficial visits to Gampel Pavilion Sunday for the UConn-Tulsa game. Maddie Burke is a 5-foot-10 freshman guard from Doylestown, Pennsylvania -- the hometown of UConn three-time national champion guard Caroline Doty -- and Central Bucks West High. Kylee Watson is a 6-foot-3 freshman forward from Linwood, New Jersey, who plays at Mainland Regional High. According to a story in The Press of Atlantic City from last October, Watson has scholarship offers from Loiusville, Minnesota, Ohio State, Rutgers, Villanova, and Virginia ... UConn is 6-0 against Cincinnati at Fifth Third Arena. But the Huskies were beaten in the building by Iowa State, 64-58 in the 1999 NCAA tournament Mideast Regional semifinals. UConn has faced two head coaches this season who were assistants on Cyclones' coach Bill Fennelly's staff that year -- Maryland's Brenda Frese and Central Florida's Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph played in the game for the Huskies and had a forgetful 2-for-12 shooting night and five points ... UConn announced limited tickets remain for Monday's showdown with No. 6 South Carolina at Gampel Pavilion.