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Preview & Open Thread: UConn Men’s Basketball at Cincinnati | TV: ESPN2, 4 PM

It will not be easy for the Huskies’ to grab a road win against the No. 14 Bearcats.

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Iowa State Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

After a without a game, the UConn Huskies return to action this afternoon, traveling to Fifth Third Arena to take on No. 14 Cincinnati. Connecticut is riding a three-game winning streak but will face its toughest challenge to date against the Bearcats.

Very Even Series

These two teams have split their last 12 meetings, with 11 of those games decided by seven points or less. In the nine times they have played since the AAC has been formed, the scoring differential in those nine games is +1 in favor of the Huskies.

Cincinnati won both regular-season matchups a year ago, but fell to UConn in the AAC quarterfinals thanks in large part to Jalen Adams three-quarters-court prayer to force a fourth overtime. The Huskies have gotten the better of the Bearcats in the AAC Tournament three years in a row.

Balanced Attack

Down to a six-man rotation, the Huskies are getting plenty of contributions from everybody. Five players have averaged in double figures during the last three games, with double-doubles from Kentan Facey and Christian Vital on Saturday against Tulane. Vital was named AAC Rookie of the Week after fellow freshman Vance Jackson took the honors the previous two weeks.

16.75

That’s how many points Jalen Adams has averaged in Saturday games this year, 1.75 points higher than his season average. In his career, the sophomore is averaging 17.33 points per game against the Bearcats.

Bearcat Winning Streak

Cincinnati has won 13 straight coming into Saturday’s affair and that is not expected to change today as the Bearcats are heavy favorites. But they are just 8-13 all-time against the visiting Huskies.

Cincinnati currently leads the AAC in scoring (77.5), scoring margin (+16.1), field goal percentage (47.6) and steals (7.5). They’re in first place in the conference thanks in large part to three double-digit scorers—Jacob Evans, Kyle Washington and Troy Caupain who have a combined average of 38.1 points per game.

We know what to expect

The Bearcats are the top team in the nation when it comes to two-point field goal percentage allowed at 39.3 percent, according to Kenpom.com. Cincinnati’s adjusted defensive rating of 91.7 is eight-best overall while its block percentage (16.1) is sixth best and its steal percentage (11.1) is 29th.

The Husky defense is ranked 44th in the country in overall efficiency. As usual, points will be at a premium this afternoon. Followers of this rivalry know these games can be ugly. Both schools play with a very low adjusted tempo—with UConn coming in a No. 319 and the Bearcats at 324 in Division I.