After a crushing home defeat on Senior Night, Kevin Ollie's UConn Huskies look to finish the regular season on a positive note against Temple at the Liacouras Arena in Philadelphia. UConn is 4-6 on the road this season.
It has been a disappointing season for the Huskies, who have suffered multiple losses for reasons which seemed unlucky or even outside of their control-- including a loss to Temple earlier in the season where captain Ryan Boatright was unavailable in the second half due to an ankle injury.
Without their leading scorer, the squad fought valiantly thanks to strong performances from Danny Hamilton, Kentan Facey and Amida Brimah. Remarkably they were able to fight back and force the game into overtime but ultimately lost, 57-53.
Temple comes into this afternoon's game with a 21-9 record and having won nine out of their past eleven contests. Senior point guard Will Cummings (13.8ppg, 4.2apg, 4.3 rpg) and junior guard Quenton Dorsey (12.2ppg, 2.1apg) have paced the Owls, who have locked up 4th place in the AAC and could slide into third if Cincinnati were to fall at home against Memphis tomorrow.
The Huskies need to win to have a chance to hold onto outright possession of fifth place in the conference. Right now they are tied with Memphis at 10-7, so be sure to keep an eye on Cincinnati at Memphis on Sunday because it will determine our final standing and first-round opponent in the AAC Tournament.
We will be going strength on strength today, as both teams are led by a cadre of talented guards who are capable of having big games, as Temple's Jesse Morgan showed us with 17 points in our last meeting or the way Rodney Purvis did with his amazing performance against SMU. The difference will be which team can get the most out of its secondary players as both Cummings and Boatright can be counted on to have good games.
Another person to keep an eye on will be Phil Nolan, who was primarily known for taking charges early in the season but appears to be invigorated by his insertion into the starting lineup. The lineup with Boatright, Purvis, Hamilton, Nolan and Brimah has been on the court for 22% of the past five games and while Nolan hasn't been filling up the stat sheet his presence has been felt. Maybe we get a career game out of Phil today, wouldn't that be something.
This is a quality Temple team and an opportunity to finish the season strong heading into the AAC Tournament, which as we all know UConn must win if they are going to participate in this year's NCAA Tournament. This will also be the final regular season game of Boat's career, and after the way his senior night was soured it would be nice to get the win.
Prediction: A win would be nice, but the Huskies have just been too inconsistent and winning on the road is tough. This is probably the Super Bowl for Temple basketball fans, and predicting UConn wins has gotten us nowhere so I'll go with Temple 58-54