Kevin Ollie's UConn Huskies are in Orlando today to take on a UCF Knights team currently tied for last in The American with a 1-8 AAC record. The two teams met about a month ago in Storrs with UConn prevailing in convincing fashion, 84-61.
UConn is coming off a very disappointing road loss to No. 7 Cincinnati on Thursday, at the time the Bearcats were undefeated in The American and enjoying their highest national ranking since the Bob Huggins era. The Huskies were ahead for most of the game but cold shooting and missed free throws down the stretch were ultimately their undoing. It didn't help that DeAndre Daniels was sidelined with ankle and back issues either. The Bearcats actually lost to SMU in Moody Coliseum last night, 76-55, so all of a sudden our loss in Dallas doesn't look so bad. At any rate, this means that UConn faces an uphill battle as they seek to move up in the conference standings, which currently look like this:
1. Cincinnati (11-1)
2. Louisville (8-2)
3. SMU (8-3)
4. Memphis (7-3)
5. UConn (5-4)
The Huskies still have one game against each of the four of the teams ahead of them, but need to make sure not to look past the lesser opponents on the schedule. The Knights don't have me very worried, in fact I'm optimistic we get a chance to see contributions from some of the young guys. Last time out against UCF, Amida Brimah broke out- scoring 20 points on 8-10 shooting, and was also 4-4 from the free throw line with 8 rebounds and 5 blocks to boot. Lately we have been seeing more of Kentan Facey and Terrance Samuel, hopefully those two get a chance to show their stuff. I would love it if tonight could be Facey's breakout game. How does a forward who is the reigning NY Gatorade Player of the Year not able to get more playing time on a team that desperately needs to get stronger down low? How is the classmate who's only other offers were from FIU, LaSalle and South Carolina getting way more burn? Why would an 8-foot tall wookie want to live on Endor? IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.
DeAndre Daniels is expected to play, but anything is possible given the back spasms that made him a late scratch against Cincinnati. Also Shabazz Napier has been experiencing tendinitis in his left wrist, which might explain his ice cold shooting performance on Thursday. Ideally he doesn't have to play past the 30 minute mark today.
Since losing to UConn on January 11th, UCF has yet to win a game. Earlier this week, they lost in heartbreaking fashion to in-state rival USF in overtime and will likely have to wait until the re-match of that heated rivalry for their next legitimate shot at a win.
Prediction: UConn wins comfortably, 77-58
Next Three: 2/12 vs. USF, 2/15 vs. Memphis, 2/20 @ Temple