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Preview: UConn women’s basketball vs. Seton Hall | 6:30 p.m., FS1

What you need to know for the Huskies’ matchup against their former and future conference mate.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

After an eight-day break over the holiday, UConn women’s basketball returns to action on Thursday night against the Seton Hall Pirates in South Orange, New Jersey.

The Huskies come into the game ranked No. 4 in the AP Top 25 while Seton Hall holds a 5-3 record with losses to Carla Berube’s Princeton team, Lehigh and Georgia Tech. The two teams have one common opponent in Vanderbilt, who the Pirates defeated 69-65 in their last game. UConn beat the Commodores 64-51.

Health Concerns

The big question for the Huskies will be whether or not Crystal Dangerfield plays. The senior point guard hadn’t practiced since sitting out against Dayton with back spasms (as of Tuesday) and her status for the game remains up in the air. Considering the fragility of the back and the fact that Notre Dame is looming on Sunday, Dangerfield will sit unless she’s 100 percent. If she doesn’t play, expect Molly Bent to start in her place once again.

As for Anna Makurat, all signs point to the Polish guard giving it a go against Seton Hall. The freshman rolled her ankle against Dayton and missed close to the entire second half. Even if Makurat is healthy, she’ll start on the bench against the Pirates — Geno Auriemma tabbed Kyla Irwin as one of the five starters when he met with media prior to the game.

Back to the Big East

Over the next three games, UConn will get to relive the glory days of the old Big East. The Huskies face three former conference mates in a row with Seton Hall, Notre Dame and DePaul. The Pirates and Blue Demons will be on UConn’s conference schedule again next season when it joins the new Big East while the Fighting Irish are as much a fixture on the Huskies’ slate as any conference opponent as well.

Ossining High School Reunion

Thursday night will serve as a reunion of sorts for the 2015-16 state championship Ossining girls’ basketball team. UConn’s Aubrey Griffin along with Seton Hall’s Shadeen Samuels and Kaliah Harris were all members on the team that went 28-2 en route to the New York State Class AA championship and the Class AA final of the New York State Federation Tournament of Champions.

Samuels, Griffin and Harris were first, second and third in scoring, respectively, while the UConn freshman paced the squad with 9.9 rebounds and 3.8 steals per game (via MaxPreps).

Series History

Few schools have served UConn as a whipping post like Seton Hall has. The Huskies are on a 30-game win streak against the Pirates dating back to the 1993-94 season and hold a 50-10 all-time record.

In that loss over a quarter of a century ago, Seton Hall took down then-No. 8 UConn 74-53 in South Orange. But that game also snapped a 15-game win streak for the Huskies in the series.

Since the two teams started playing in 1978, it has been a very one-sided series. But it hasn’t always been one-sided in favor of UConn. In the early days of the Big East, the Huskies lost their first six games to Seton Hall and didn’t even it up until 1989. But since that point, UConn has lost just one game to the Pirates.

Fun With Numbers

  • Auriemma holds a 47-2 record over Seton Hall. At .959, that’s the highest win percentage against any team he’s faced at least 30 times.
  • UConn has already used three different starting lineups this season, the same total as all of last year.
  • Olivia Nelson-Ododa is second in the nation in blocks (28) and blocks per game (4.67). Assuming the Huskies reach the Final Four, the sophomore would shatter the program’s single-season shot-blocking record at that pace with 172 blocks. Kiah Stokes currently holds the top spot with 147, a mark she set back in 2014-15.
  • UConn’s Core Four is responsible for 81.1 percent of the team’s points this season.

Prediction

UConn 79, Seton Hall 54. With or without Dangerfield, the Pirates shouldn’t give the Huskies too much trouble.

How to Watch

Time: 6:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: UConn IMG Sports Network, 97.9 ESPN Hartford