After demolishing SMU on the road in a game where Breanna Stewart nearly had a putback dunk, the UConn Huskies (18-0, 8-0 American) are back in action tonight in Oklahoma where they will take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (7-13, 4-5 American) at the Reynolds Center.
The Huskies have been playing without star forward Morgan Tuck for the past two games, though it has not been an issue at all given the level of competition on this stretch of the conference schedule. Tuck, who is resting a surgically repaired knee, should be ready for the big matchup against South Carolina on February 8.
Tulsa has visited UConn already this season, receiving a 95-35 beating at the XL Center three weeks ago. There is no reason to believe, even with the Huskies missing Tuck, that anything different will happen tonight. Tulsa might be able to break the 50-point mark, but I wouldn't bet on it. UConn is holding conference opponents to 44.8 points per game.
UConn fans will want to keep an eye on the development of Natalie Butler, who could be a key piece to a championship run. For all of UConn's perceived invincibility, don't forget that DePaul, Notre Dame, and Maryland played UConn to the wire. Every little bit will help in the postseason, especially since Notre Dame wasn't fully healthy when the Irish met UConn at Gampel Pavilion. Butler can bring a strong low-post presence that would be just plain unfair given the size and talent already in the lineup.
Gabby Williams and Katie Lou Samuelson have also stepped up in Tuck's absence. Williams has moved back into the starting lineup, scoring 19 points against UCF and 10 in 17 minutes against SMU. Samuelson has been playing well for a while and recently earned her way into the starting lineup as well. She scored a career-high 21 points in the win over Temple and has focused on being a complete player on the court- which has led to her success.
With the win over SMU, Geno Auriemma's squad has extended its winning streak to 55 games- the third-longest in NCAA history. The Huskies own the top two winning streaks on that list as well, obviously. Auriemma offered some wonderful commentary when asked about the accomplishment:
"I used to get stat sheets and updates on my desk, now I gotta go find them... That crack sports information department, they take it for granted too. I used to know all the stuff but now it's like 'What's the big deal?'"
"I remember when Louisiana Tech won all those games...there's a lot more good teams today than there were back then. There's a lot more parity...it may not be evident."
"If you're Notre Dame how many would you have won if we weren't on the schedule? How many national championships you might have won if we weren't on the schedule..."
"(If) we go .500 on the road now, people would kill themselves."
Watch here for his full answer!