How to watch
When: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, CT
Radio: UConn Sports Network (97.9 ESPN and affiliates)
DePaul Blue Demons
Record: 5-2 (2-0 Big East)
Preseason poll: 2nd
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Head coach: Doug Bruno (33rd season)
UConn will gets its first test of the season when the No. 18 DePaul Blue Demons pay a visit to Gampel Pavilion. The Blue Demons are always one of the most difficult teams to prepare for on the Huskies’ schedule and this year is no different.
DePaul plays with its hair on fire, averaging 84.6 possessions per game, second most of any team in the country. It fires up an astonishing 27.7 3-pointers per game and makes them at a 33.5 percent clip.
That frenetic style helps the Blue Demons score 88.3 points per game — 11th in the nation — but it also benefits their opponents, who average 79.9 points per game. DePaul also collects 19.1 assists and 12.3 steals each game as well, which helps the Blue Demons consistently be on of the fastest playing teams in the country.
However, the Blue Demons struggle defensively and on the boards. Along with the high number of points DePaul allows per game, opponents make 48.8 percent of their shots and 35.5 percent from three. The Blue Demons only rebound 61.5 percent of opportunities on the defensively glass — which ranks in just the 14th percentile nationally.
With such a high-powered offense, all five of DePaul’s starters average double-figures in scoring. Junior Sonya Morris leads the team with both 18.7 points per game and a 37.8 3-point percentage (minimum four attempts per game). Lexi Held runs the point and dishes out 3.9 assists also adds 2.6 steals per game — both of which are team-bests.
UConn leads the all-time series 16-1, with DePaul’s sole victory coming in the schools’ first-ever meetings back in 1983.
Since the Blue Demons joined the Big East ahead of the 2005-06 season, they’ve met the Huskies on the court every year since. Last year, UConn eked out a 84-74 victory where it led by 26 points at halftime before DePaul stormed back and got within four points late in the fourth quarter. UConn eventually locked down on defense to hold on for the win.
But for as much attention as this matchup gets, it hasn’t been close recently. The Huskies have won all but two games by double-digits and nine of the last 11 meetings have been decided by 30 points or more.
Sonya Morris played with former UConn star Napheesa Collier for a year at Incarnate Word Academy in St. Louis for one season — when Morris was a freshman and Collier a senior. Morris, who won the 2018 Post-Dispatch All-Metro Girls Basketball Player of the Year award, said Collier was a key mentor for her.
“She showed that you have to lead in several ways and that being a leader isn’t always about being the best player on the team or the oldest person,” Morris told STLToday.com. “It’s the one who knows how to encourage people and bring the team together.”
By the numbers
84 — UConn has scored at least 84 points in each of its last 11 games against DePaul.
92.3-60.1 — The average score between UConn and DePaul in their last ten meetings (h/t Bob Joyce)
14 — UConn is averaging 14.0 rebounds more than its opponents each game. That number should be even wider against a DePaul squad that struggles on the glass.
What to watch for
Can UConn limit DePaul’s offense? — Geno Auriemma has been vocal with his displeasure on UConn’s defense. Though the Huskies have had flashes of dominant play, he believes that man-to-man defense is still a “challenge” for his team. UConn passed its first test by bottling up Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist, but DePaul is a completely different animal. We’ll see if the Huskies answer the bell.
UConn’s size advantage — Not a single player six feet or taller plays meaningful minutes for DePaul, which will give UConn a significant advantage in the post. Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Aaliyah Edwards should have their way in the paint and especially on the boards. UConn should score most of its baskets from close range and — if it can keep the Blue Demons off the 3-point line — make it difficult for DePaul to score inside.