These two teams have met three consecutive years in the conference tournament, with the Huskies prevailing each time. They’ve met twice in the quarterfinals and previously met in the 2014 semifinals.
The Bearcats have beaten UConn twice handily already, by 20 in the season finale at Gampel and by 12 at Fifth Third Arena in February. Mick Cronin’s squad lost just twice during the conference slate and is coming off a comfortable win over Tulsa in the quarterfinals.
UConn ended the season on a four-game losing streak which caused them to drop to the sixth seed and miss out on a first-round bye. The Huskies didn’t assuage any concerns when they barely made it past USF in the first round, but have renewed hope with a complete performance against Houston.
UConn outrebounded the Cougars and saw four players hit double-digit scoring as multiple players came through in big moments. Rodney Purvis has been playing some of his best basketball as of late, currently riding a 14-game double-digit scoring streak and averaging 24 points in two conference tournament games.
Jalen Adams had been struggling lately, hobbled due to an ankle injury, but broke through for a team-leading 23 points Friday. When UConn’s guards are on, it helps make the whole thing work. But one group which was quiet that night will need to step up for the Huskies to have a chance today: the big men.
Cincinnati’s big men and team rebounding prowess have caused problems for UConn. The battle on the boards will be key, as Kevin Ollie has already acknowledged.
“The only thing I’m going to write on the board tomorrow is rebounding,” he said. “That’s pretty much the game. If we don’t rebound, we’re losing... and we’re going home.”
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