UConn men’s basketball had some time to recuperate after Saturday night’s overtime loss to Cincinnati, so the Huskies will be well-rested as they take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on the road tonight.
UConn (10-7, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) has yet to win a game on their opponent’s home court, but it appears Tulsa presents the best chance for them to do so. Despite losing, the Huskies looked as good as they have all year in the Cincinnati game and it’s unlikely Jalen Adams will foul out again, allowing Dan Hurley to deploy a full lineup against one of the weaker teams in the conference.
Tulsa (11-6, 1-3 AAC) seemingly hasn’t improved during the nearly five years of Frank Haith’s tenure as head coach, and it’s not clear if the Golden Hurricane are getting any better this season. The players filling in the roles of last year’s departed seniors don’t appear to be comfortable in their expanded roles, leaving the team with a roster that might not even be experiencing natural development.
The team isn’t without talent, but it suffers from a lack of identity. They aren’t good at anything except drawing fouls, and even that may be a product of the Golden Hurricane’s weak schedule.
To summarize the offensive issues, where the bulk of the team’s problems lie, requires a comprehensive look at the stats. Tulsa is below the national average in shooting percentage for all three shot values, struggling from each spot of the floor. Their consistent passing ensures the assist percentage looks fine but they score little in transition and hardly ever get second chances through offensive rebounding.
The defense is what has helped Tulsa win games but it’s because of the strengths of a few individual players. DaQuan Jeffries is the team’s best player on both ends of the court while seventh man Jeriah Horne has also showed good instincts. The team lacks size, contributing to the rebounding deficiency, but also leaves the Golden Hurricane vulnerable to inside attacks. Most important, because it also compounds the offensive issue, is that they don’t create turnovers, averaging only a touch above five steals per game.
Outside of Jeffries and Horne, Tulsa lacks two-way players, revealing a lack of depth that permeates Haith’s gameplans. It’s worked so far, with wins over Oklahoma State and Kansas State, the latter of which was a 47-46 contest that was one of the ugliest games of the season. Tulsa, though, has also lost to Southern Illinois and defeated California Baptist by only three. As the season goes along, we’ll see which of those versions is the truer Golden Hurricane. The Huskies will be hoping it’s the latter.
What to look for
When UConn has the ball: With little inside defense to work against, do Adams and Alterique Gilbert drive inside, or work the ball in to Josh Carlton and Eric Cobb? Can the high turnover rate subside against a defense that prioritizes passivity? Does Brendan Adams go back to being the fifth guard, or has he fallen out of the rotation in close games? Does Sidney Wilson use this opportunity to find his footing on offense?
When Tulsa has the ball: Can the defense stop giving in to a team searching for fouls, but one less talented than UConn’s last few opponents—who all played the same strategy? Does Cobb get a chance to be more assertive on defense, as he’s shown flashes of recently? Does senior guard Sterling Taplin turn into Tulsa’s secret weapon, following a rough start to the season after two straight years of solid play?
How to watch
Where: Reynolds Center, Tulsa, OK
When: 7 p.m.
Radio: UConn IMG Sports Network