The Huskies return to action tonight when they travel to the campus of SMU to take on the Mustangs on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. Sunday’s loss at Gampel Pavilion to Houston puts additional pressure on UConn to come up with a second win over SMU and bolster its floundering NCAA tournament resume.
The Huskies (20-9, 10-6) are 2-5 all-time against the Mustangs but have won two of the last three, including a 68-62 victory at the XL Center in mid February. Looking for the season sweep, UConn will once again need a strong performance from Amida Brimah who tallied 16 points, eight rebounds and five blocks in the two teams’ last meeting. Daniel Hamilton came up with big shots down the stretch and the Huskies gutted out their biggest win of the season over the then-No. 21 ranked Mustangs (24-4, 12-4).
SMU’s adjusted offensive efficiency ranking of 117.6 is the 13th best in the nation with four players averaging in double figures led by senior Nic Moore (16.1 points per game). The Mustangs are the second-highest scoring offense in the American Athletic Conference at 78 points per game. SMU also leads the conference in scoring margin (+14.2), field-goal percentage (.500), 3-point field-goal percentage (.427), rebounding margin (+10.6), assists per game (17.7), defensive rebounding percentage (.717) and offensive rebounding percentage (.418). The first-place Mustangs also hold the conference’s longest winning streak at three straight games and have won four of five.
UConn will need an improved defensive effort following a disappointing outing against Houston. The Huskies adjusted defensive efficiency rating (93.1) fell to 11th in country. UConn allowed Houston to shoot 60 percent in the second half of Sunday’s loss and 50 percent overall. Offensively the Huskies’ adjusted efficiency rating of 108.8 is 80th in the nation and will be matched up against an SMU defense that ranks 74th.
A win for UConn would be a huge boost to its postseason resume. Following a loss that they should’ve had at home, the Huskies need a win to separate from the middle of the AAC standings and gain some momentum going into the season finale on Sunday and into the AAC tournament. According to TeamRankings.com, UConn goes into tonight’s game with a 79 percent chance of making the tournament, projected as a ninth seed.