How to watch
When: Jan. 31, 1:00 p.m.
Where: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, IL
Stream: FoxSportsGo.com/Fox Sports App
Radio: UConn Sports Network (97.9 ESPN and affiliates)
DePaul Blue Demons
Record: 9-3 (6-1 Big East)
Preseason poll: 2nd
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Head coach: Doug Bruno (33rd season)
UConn and DePaul will make history when they take the court on Sunday as the first women’s basketball game ever broadcast on FOX. Considering the two teams are the class of the Big East, there’s no better conference matchup to showcase on national television.
“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of people that are FOX viewers that have never seen a women’s game on FOX,” Geno Auriemma said. “They’re going to turn it on and they’re going to, I think, be a little bit impressed by it and they’re going to want to know when the next one is.”
The Huskies rarely have much trouble with the Blue Demons — UConn has won all but two games by double-digits while nine of the last 12 meetings have been decided by 30+ points.
On top of that, the Huskies just played Arkansas, who is essentially a more talented version of DePaul. They play at a frenetic pace and shoot a lot of threes, but the Blue Demons don’t have anyone like Chelsea Dungee or Destiny Slocum.
Since the last time the two teams squared off, DePaul has taken care of business in the Big East with four comfortable wins over Villanova, St. John’s, Georgetown, and Butler. The Blue Demons haven’t played in 10 days after games against Providence and Xavier were postponed due to COVID issues within those two programs.
DePaul ranks second in the country with 82.2 possessions per game and boasts a top-10 offense at 82.3 points per game. Doug Bruno’s squad is less concerned about the other end of the floor with the 20th-worst defense in the country, allowing 76.7 points per game. They also struggle on the glass, grabbing just 46.8 percent of all rebounding opportunities.
Five different players average at least 10 points per game, paced by Sonya Morris at 18.2 ppg. She’s also DePaul’s best 3-point shooter, hitting treys at a 40.3 percent clip. Deja Church grabs a team-high 5.7 rebounds per game, though two other players also average at least five boards.
UConn earned a comfortable 75-52 win over DePaul back on Dec. 29 at Gampel Pavilion behind 18 points from Paige Bueckers and a double-double from Olivia Nelson-Ododa.
Overall, the Huskies are 18-1 all-time against the Blue Demons and 18-0 with Auriemma at the helm.
By the numbers
1,004 — Since March 1993, UConn has played 1,004 games without back-to-back losses. The Huskies will look to keep that streak alive coming off a 90-87 defeat to Arkansas on Thursday.
85.3 — Both UConn and DePaul average the exact same number of points per game, 85.3. That mark is the seventh-best in the nation.
90 — In their last game, the Huskies allowed 90 points to Arkansas. That’s the most UConn has given up in regulation since a 90-75 loss to Notre Dame in the 2001 Final Four.
What to watch for
How does UConn respond?
Earlier this season, Auriemma said losing a game is “life-changing for a lot of these kids.” Against Arkansas, the Huskies’ seven freshmen experienced losing at UConn for the first time. Will they use the experience as motivation and take everything out on DePaul? Or will they crumble under their first taste of real adversity?
Considering how UConn fought back from fourth-quarter deficits against Tennessee, the former seems more likely. Either way, how the Huskies respond to the loss will say a lot about what this team is really made of.
Can Nelson-Ododa bounce back?
Nelson-Ododa will also be looking for a bounce-back effort after bottoming out against Arkansas with a season-low two points and two rebounds. Luckily, there’s no better team for the junior to face. Not only is the 6-foot-1 Allen the tallest player in DePaul’s rotation, but Nelson-Ododa has also dominated the Blue Demons in her last two games with a combined 34 points on 16-20 shooting and 18 rebounds.
UConn will need to control the pace and avoid taking too many threes. If Nelson-Ododa can bounce back and re-find her form from earlier in the season, the Huskies shouldn’t have much trouble dispatching the Blue Demons.