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Open Thread: UConn Men’s Basketball vs. No. 17 SMU | 12 PM, CBS

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The Huskies will have a chance to make a national statement against a top team in the conference.

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Southern Methodist Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a loss to Houston on Wednesday night, the UConn Huskies return to action at the XL Center to host No. 17 SMU. Connecticut was throttled by the Mustangs earlier in the season and will be looking for an improved performance today behind the support of the home crowd.

Facts and Figures

14-1

SMU’s record in the AAC this year. The Mustangs have won 19 of their last 20 games and 10 straight. Currently one game ahead of Cincinnati in the conference standings, this is the Mustangs’ final road game of the regular season. SMU is 7-2 all time against the Huskies, including wins in three of the last four meetings. However, UConn has won two of the last three meetings in Hartford.

Defensive Battle

Saturday’s matchup features two of the top-three scoring defenses in the AAC. SMU comes in ranked No. 1 overall, allowing 58.1 points per game while UConn is third at 63.9 points per.

In a contest where points will likely be at a premium, watch to see which team wins the battle on the glass. The Mustangs’ offensive rebounding percentage is 39.3, fourth-best in Division I, according to Kenpom.com. The Huskies will need big-time performances from Amida Brimah and Kentan Facey down low. Ben Moore, the leading rebounder in the conference, gave UConn fits the last time out, posting a double-double with 14 points and 13 boards.

Find Semi Ojeleye and Shake Milton

Ojeleye leads the team in scoring at 18.3 points per game (3rd leading scorer in the AAC) and is lethal from the outside. In the two schools’ first meeting this season, he dropped 17 points on the Huskies while Shake Milton scored a game-high 23.

Cut Down on the Turnovers

UConn turned it over 16 times in the last meeting, leading to 18 SMU points. Jalen Adams had a dismal performance that night, shooting 1-of-10 from the field for three points while dishing out eight assists but five turnovers. Only two Huskies scored in double figures that night, shooting a dreadful 34 percent as a team.

Consistent Play

Putting together solid back-to-back halves has been a problem all year for the Huskies. In the Jan. 19 meeting, UConn was outscored 36-15 in the first half, digging a hole it couldn’t claw out of. SMU is one of the two premier teams in the conference and the Huskies will need to execute for 40 minutes to have a chance at pulling the upset. Kenpom.com gives UConn at 31 percent chance to win.