This is the one we've been waiting for. UConn gets its first crack at a ranked opponent, #7 Texas.
The Huskies are coming off a tough loss to West Virginia in the championship of the Puerto Rico Tip Off. In their return to Gampel, they are met with a tough test.
Texas enters this afternoon a sparkling 5-0, including a championship in the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden. The Longhorns are led by senior forward Jonathan Holmes, who is scoring 13.4 ppg. Look out for much hyped freshman big man Myles Turner. A 5-star recruit, Turner has generated lottery pick hype. Texas will be without star guard Isaiah Taylor, who is nursing a broken wrist.
The Huskies are coming off their worst performance of the season against West Virginia. The final score, 78-68, does not tell the true story of the game. UConn was perplexed by their hard press defense and played sloppy, committing 19 turnovers.
UConn needs to start this game strong. They've made it a trend falling behind early in the first half, but that won't fly against a good Texas squad. If they fall behind, Texas will look to bury them early.
This is a game where Amida Brimah absolutely has to play 32+ minutes. His presence on both ends of the floor transforms UConn into a different team. He's the only player that can think about dealing with Turner.
Last week, Ryan Boatright was named the American Athletic Conference's Player of the Week and Daniel Hamilton was named the AAC Rookie of the Week, so look for them to continue their hot starts.
The two programs have met 7 times before today, with the Huskies holding a 5-2 advantage. The Kemba Walker-led Huskies beat the Longhorns in Austin in Jan. 2011. The last time Texas visited Gampel, they were ranked #1 and were upset by UConn in Jan. 2010.
This is a big game, between two programs that know each other. Texas coach Rick Barnes has coached against UConn 19 times before today, counting his days at Providence.
Gampel Pavilion is filling up. UConn staffers have put up T shirts on every seat. The #24 UConn Huskies will clash with the #7 Texas Longhorns.
Buckle up folks, it's up to get crazy.
Follow along on Twitter @theUConnBlog and @ElanDeCarlo
Check back here for a quick half time recap.
The Gampel crowd has been tremendous. Easily the loudest it's been since the Florida game a year ago. Sadly, the best shooting display came from the guy who won $1000 bucks during a timeout contest.
Through the opening 20 minutes, the Huskies shot just 9-27 from the field, including 3-9 from 3 point range. Despite the poor marksmanship, UConn trails by just 6.
The problem lies with Texas' bigs. Three different Longhorns have blocked shots and their interior presence has been disrupting UConn's guard penetration, which effectively kills the offense.
Ryan Boatright and Daniel Hamilton have carried the offense, combining for 18 points and all the UConn highlights. It's become expected for these guys to bear the load, but today has been remarkable. Only two other Huskies have scored.
UConn needs to put the ball in the hoop.
Create turnovers, get fast break points, make the crowd a factor.
Let's lasso up these Longhorns.