The Huskies return to action today against Central Florida two days removed from a last-second loss to Cincinnati at the XL Center on Thursday. UConn (14-6, 4-3) will look to start a new winning streak at CFE Arena in Orlando, Florida and keep pace in the American Athletic Conference.
The Huskies are 6-1 all-time against the Knights (10-8, 4-3), including a 67-60 win at Gampel Pavilion last January. In the victory, Ryan Boatright scored a game-high 18 points, dishing out seven assists. Four UConn starters scored in double figures that night, as Amida Brimah (14), Omar Calhoun (11) and Daniel Hamilton (10) all contributed to the win.
UCF is led in scoring by sophomore forward A.J. Davis (13.4 points per game) who did not play in last year's lone meeting. The Knights' second-leading point-man, Adonys Henriquez (10.6 ppg) scored 10 against the Huskies in last season's loss in Storrs.
After a rough offensive showing against the Bearcats, UConn's adjusted offensive efficiency rating (106.4) fell to 125th in the nation, according to kenpom.com. The Huskies again struggled to get easy shots and convert at the rim. The shooting woes of Hamilton and Rodney Purvis continued to hinder an attack that's been led by graduate-transfer seniors Shonn Miller and Sterling Gibbs.
However, a trip to UCF might be just what the doctor ordered. The Knights are last in the AAC scoring defense, allowing 71.3 points per game. UCF's defensive field goal percentage (.402) sits in the middle of the conference rankings, a stark contrast to UConn's conference-best percentage of .373. Where the Huskies' offense should find the most resistance is on the perimeter where the Knights limit their conference opponents to .305 percent (UConn connects at .361 percent from beyond the arch).
Miller, Phil Nolan and Kentan Facey should have their hands full with the UCF bigs. The Knights come into Sunday's matchup ranked third in the AAC in offensive rebounding and in rebounding margin (+4.6) with Davis grabbing 5.6 boards per game.
Without center Amida Brimah who is recovering from a broken finger, the Huskies will rely heavily on their defensive effort. UCF's adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 105.2 is 139th in the country while UConn's adjusted defensive efficiency rating of 92.0 is tenth best. Both teams shoot at .465 percent from the field but the Knights have the second-worst turnover margin in the conference.
A win for the Huskies would improve them to 5-3 in the American, keeping pace with Tulsa, Temple, Cincinnati and SMU.