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Men's Basketball: UConn, Georgetown Reignite Old Big East Rivalry Saturday Afternoon

The Huskies and Hoyas were the two most successful teams in the old Big East combining for 14 conference tournament championships.

Omar Calhoun made a heroic 3-point shot the last time UConn and Georgetown squared off.
Omar Calhoun made a heroic 3-point shot the last time UConn and Georgetown squared off.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The Big East Conference was once the home of the nation's best basketball and some of the best rivalries.

Saturday, the old Big East's two most successful teams renew one of the conference's great rivalries, as UConn and Georgetown meet at the XL Center.

UConn and Georgetown each won seven Big East Tournament championships, more than any other program. Georgetown won six of the first 10 tournaments. UConn matched Georgetown's seven by becoming the only college basketball team ever to win five games in five days at a conference tournament in 2011.

Saturday will be the 65th all-time meeting between the two programs. The Hoyas hold a 35-29 advantage after winning six of the last eight meetings.

The last meeting between the two teams was a thriller at Gampel Pavilion. Georgetown—ranked No. 7 at the time—led 62-59 with 8.7 seconds to play, when Markel Starks missed the front end of a one-and-one. Ryan Boatright pushed the ball up the floor and found Omar Calhoun open on the wing. The then-freshman sensation buried a 3-pointer that sent Storrs into a frenzy. The Huskies lost 79-78 in double overtime, but it was a memorable game, nonetheless.

After losing two games out of three, the Huskies (13-5, 4-2 American Athletic Conference) have won back-to-back games against Houston and Tulane. Georgetown (12-7, 5-2 Big East), meanwhile, is coming into Saturday's game on the back of a win at Xavier, which entered the game 16-1.

Without Amida Brimah, UConn's offensive numbers have slipped, but the defense has been amazing. The Huskies rank 11th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency (92.4) and ninth in defensive effective field goal percentage (43.3 percent). Georgetown ranks 51st in adjusted offensive efficiency (109.9) and 75th in effective field goal percentage (52.2 percent).

UConn's offense looked unstoppable in the second half at Houston, but it has been struggling the last few weeks. Once a top-25 offense, the Huskies have dropped to 96th in adjusted efficiency (107.8). They will be going up against the 66th-most-efficient defense in the country (97.4). Part of UConn's problem offensively has been settling for poor shots. It's showing in the team's effective field goal percentage, which is at 53 percent entering Saturday (54th). Teams have a 44.4 percent effective field goal percentage against Georgetown, which ranks the Hoyas' defense 16th.

The Huskies will have to try to contain Georgetown senior D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. The Indianapolis native is the third-leading scorer in the Big East at 16.4 points per game. He is also contributing 4.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game.

UConn fans may remember Smith-Rivera playing a big role in the Hoyas' double-overtime win at Gampel Pavilion in 2013. The Huskies led by seven in the second overtime before a 3-pointer by Otto Porter with 1:51 to play. Smith-Rivera's 3-pointer 59 seconds later got the Hoyas within one. He then made a steal with 19 seconds left that led to Porter's game-winning layup.

The Huskies will be looking to add another win to their meager NCAA Tournament resume Saturday. UConn's resume does not jump off the page right now. Kevin Ollie's team only has three wins against the RPI top 100, while eight are against teams ranked 201st or lower. Georgetown is currently 72nd in the RPI. While Georgetown is far from a noteworthy team this season, a win against the Hoyas would be beneficial for the Huskies.