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Open Thread: UConn vs. Houston | 3pm, ESPN2

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The UConn Huskies open conference play this afternoon at the XL Center in Hartford when they host the University of Houston. Coming off a tough, overtime loss to Auburn last Friday, Connecticut will be without sophomore Jalen Adams (concussion) and freshman Juwan Durham (flu) depleting an already extremely thin rotation for Kevin Ollie.

The Cougars enter today’s contest with a 9-3 mark but will play only their third true-road game of the season, going 0-2 in their previous two attempts. Houston is coming off a 1-point loss to Harvard. While their record is solid, the competition the Cougars has faced hasn’t been quite as stiff. The Huskies are ranked No. 83 in the nation according to marking just the third opponent Houston has faced ranked in the top 100.

The Cougars are led by Rob Gray who has scored in double-digits every game this year with a true-shooting percentage of 61.6 percent. As a team Houston is deadly from beyond the arch, shooting 42.9 percent from three, fourth-best in the country.

How UConn defends will be paramount as the Houston offense is one of the most efficient in the nation. Ollie, out of necessity due to injury, has played more zone in recent games—a trend likely to continue this afternoon.

With Adams likely out Connecticut will need to find additional scoring, so look for the Huskies to work it inside to Kentan Facey, Steven Enoch and Amida Brimah. The three big men must stay out of foul trouble with such a short bench today.

This one looks like it could turn south quickly for UConn, but Ollie seems to find ways to get his guys to over achieve from time-to-time. Connecticut’s attack without Adams must be efficient, and the defense must be ready to play its heart out to have a chance against a talented and far healthier Houston team.