The UConn Huskies return to action tonight when they host No. 21 SMU at the XL Center in Hartford at 8 p.m.
UConn (18-7, 8-4) is coming off a two-point win over Tulsa on Saturday, however fans would feel a lot better going into this one had the Huskies not choked away double-digit leads in each of their last two contests. A win for UConn would improve their record to 9-4 in the American Athletic Conference with another big game on the road against Cincinnati (19-7, 9-4) looming on Saturday.
The Huskies will need to have one of their best defensive efforts against the Mustangs (21-3, 9-3). SMU leads the AAC in scoring (79.4), scoring margin (+15.2), field-goal percentage (.501), three-point percentage (.423), rebounding margin (+9.8), assists per game (17.9), assist/turnover ratio (1.5) and offensive rebounding percentage (.415). Add all of those numbers up and SMU boasts an adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 118.6, good for seventh best in the country.
The Mustangs' Nic Moore is the conference's leading assist getter (5.2 apg), three-point shooter (2.7 pg) and second-leading scorer (16.7 ppg). Moore scored 11 points on 3-of-14 shooting in last year's AAC championship game, a 62-54 SMU win at the XL Center. In that loss, four Mustangs scored in double figures helping the bench outscore the Huskies', 28-9.
Rodney Purvis has been strong in recent outings with SMU- averaging 28.5 ppg in the team's last two meetings. The Huskies should find points on the perimeter as the Mustangs rank in the bottom half of the ACC in three-point field goal defense. Overall SMU's defense ranks 90th in the nation with an adjusted efficiency rating of 99.6. UConn's offense has improved lately, despite poor second-half showings, climbing to No. 83 overall with an adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 108.4. A balanced attack has given the offense a lift, with five Huskies scoring in double figures against Tulsa.
UConn is 1-5 all-time against SMU, with its lone win coming at the XL Center last March. Coming up with a win tonight would be a huge boost to the Huskies' tournament resume as well as their hopes of a first-round bye in the AAC tournament.