After a brutal loss on Thursday night at SMU, the UConn Huskies return to action this afternoon when they host UCF at Gampel Pavilion at 2 p.m. on ESPNU. Following two straight losses, the Huskies are in desperate need of a win their final regular-season game as they cannot afford any more blemishes on the NCAA Tournament resumé.
The Huskies are 7-1 all-time against the Knights, notching a 26-point victory in Orlando on Jan. 31. UConn's defense, which has struggled as of late, should get back on track against a UCF (12-16, 6-11) team it limited to 23.5 percent shooting in the teams' last meeting.
The Knights are paced by sophomore AJ Davis who leads the team in scoring (11.8) and rebounding (6.0) while senior guard Daiquan Walker leads the team in assists (3.9). UCF's adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 100.7 is 230th in the nation- exactly what the doctor ordered for a Huskies' defense which has slipped to 12th overall with a rating of 93.4. The Knights have won just one of their last eight games coming into Sunday's matchup in Storrs.
Offensively, UConn (20-10, 10-7) should find more success than it did on Thursday against SMU as UCF's adjusted defensive efficiency rating of 102.9 is 162nd in the country. The Knights' are the worst scoring defense in the American Athletic Conference, allowing 72.0 points per game. However, the Huskies' big men will need to come up large as the Knights are one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the conference with Tacko Fall and Justin McBride manning the post.
Only a short time ago many thought this would be an easy win for UConn but after two straight disappointing performances, this is anything but. The Huskies need to close out the regular season on a high note, building some momentum as they head to the AAC tournament next week. But to be blunt, if UConn can't win this game it probably doesn't deserve to play in the NCAA tournament.