The UConn Huskies return to action tonight after a promising win over UCF Saturday, hosting Memphis in Hartford. Sitting with a 12-12 record, UConn has a chance climb above .500 for what would be the first time all season.
Facts & Figures
Holding on to the Bye
The Huskies (12-12, 8-5) come into Thursday’s matchup fifth in the American Athletic Conference standings, one spot behind the Tigers (18-8, 8-5). The top-five teams in the conference standings earn a first-round bye in the AAC tournament, so a win tonight would go a long way towards securing it. The Huskies lost to Memphis in early January, 70-61 but are 6-4 all time against the Tigers, including wins in three of the last four.
Since that loss to Memphis, UConn has won seven-of-10. In the last four games, the Huskies have been lighting it up from long range, shooting 52.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Rodney Purvis has been the catalyst, connecting at an incredible 73.3 percent from three, but it has been a team effort. Christian Vital (.500), Jalen Adams (.462) and Vance Jackson (.375) have all put their outside stroke on display.
Amida Brimah was a force on the boards in the last meeting, hauling in a career-high 15 rebounds. Head coach Kevin Ollie always stresses aggression on the boards and another dominant performance by Brimah should help UConn secure the win.
The Tigers are led by Dedric Lawson, who is averaging a double-double on the season with 19.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
While Markel Crawford torched UConn in the first meeting of the season, Lawson should be the primary defensive focus. Over his last four games Lawson is averaging 24.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game—impressive numbers for the sophomore. In his career against Connecticut, Lawson averages 10.33 points and 6.67 rebounds per game.
That’s how many points Jalen Adams scored in the first meeting with Memphis—his second-lowest output of the season behind a three-point performance against SMU. In the ten games since the disappointing showing against the Tigers, the star sophomore has put up 13.3 points and 8.1 assists per game.
The Huskies are the favorites tonight in one of two remaining games on the regular-season schedule in which that is the case, according to Kenpom.com. The two teams are ranked fairly evenly overall—UConn is 88th and Memphis is 86th—but the Huskies get the nod due to the home-court advantage.
UConn needs to take care of business in this winnable game at home with so many challenging games coming up at Temple and Houston in addition to home bouts with Cincinnati and SMU. Connecticut is 5-0 in its last five home games, including 2-0 at the XL Center.