clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Preview: UConn men’s basketball vs. New Hampshire | 1 p.m, SNY

UConn takes on another former Yankee Conference rival in their final game before Christmas.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Fresh off an easy but turnover-filled win over Saint Peter’s, the UConn men’s basketball team returns to action Sunday afternoon with a matchup against former Yankee Conference foe New Hampshire.

Limiting turnovers will be the main focus for the Huskies, who have given the ball up 48 times in their last two games. The Wildcats don’t do a good job of forcing turnovers, so UConn should be able to right the ship if they can play within themselves and make smarter decisions on offense.

“I think it’s just more of a function of trying to do too much,” head coach Dan Hurley said. “Just putting yourself into bad situations in terms of like, driving a cab that you shouldn’t drive, playing too fast. Once you beat an initial defender, the closer you go to the basket, more, you should slow down and now read the defense...

“Hopefully they get back to being more responsible.”

New Hampshire comes to Hartford fresh off a 64-56 win at Marist, one of the worst teams in Division I basketball this year. The Wildcats aren’t much better, ranking No. 278 in KenPom, and while they are 6-5 on the season, only four of those wins have come against Division I opponents and just one (Bryant) came against an opponent with a KenPom ranking higher than 325.

The Wildcats are led by Sean Sutherlin, a 6-foot-5 guard who leads the team in rebounds (10.2), assists (3.2) and steals (1.1) per game. He’s second on the team in scoring averaging 14 points but serves as the primary option on offense. Nick Guaderrama shoulders slightly smaller load on offense but leads the team with 15.5 points per game and also adds 9.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

While UNH has two other scorers - both also over 6-foot-5 - averaging over 10 points per game in Josh Hopkins and Jayden Martinez, shutting Sutherlin and Guadarrama down will be key for the Huskies to secure the victory.

After posting one of his best shooting performances of his junior season, Tyler Polley looks to keep things rolling. The junior forward made four 3-pointers on six attempts in the win over Saint Peter’s, marking just the second time he has made four 3-pointers in a game this season. Polley is shooting 45.3 percent from the new FIBA-length 3-point line this season and established himself as a lethal spot up shooter on the break.

The only problem is that Polley isn’t necessarily getting enough chances to let the Huskies take advantage of his shooting prowess. Polley boasts a usage rate higher than just Jalen Gaffney and Akok Akok despite having the team’s highest offensive rating at 136.2.

According to Hurley, that’s set to change against the Wildcats.

“He obviously gets a majority of his threes on broken plays and transition,” Hurley said of Polley. “We just gotta find more ways in the half court to get him clean looks on threes when the game settles into more of a half court type of game.”

While Polley has made the most of his limited opportunities, it’s nice to see him have a more deliberate role in the Huskies’ offensive gameplan.

“He’s integrating more plays [into the offense] for me to get open,” Polley said. “I have to work off the ball, set my man up off the screen so I can get my shot off.”

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Prediction: This game should be an easy wire-to-wire win. Look for Hurley to practice what he preaches and get Tyler Polley involved with some dedicated plays outside of his usual looks on the fast break. Polley has a real chance to lead all scorers if that happens, but the Huskies should win comfortably no matter what. UConn 80, New Hampshire 63

How to watch

Where: XL Center - Hartford, Connecticut

When: 1:00 p.m.

TV: SNY

Radio: UConn IMG Radio Network