UConn men’s basketball is facing what head coach Dan Hurley called its toughest game of the season so far. They’re in Indianapolis, Indiana to take on Big East foe Butler at the Hinkle Fieldhouse at 4 p.m Saturday.
Part of the difficulty may be because sophomore guard James Bouknight is a “game-time decision” after hyperextending his elbow Wednesday night against Marquette. Bouknight had not scored less than 18 points all season before scoring six points — in large part due to a midcourt tumble that led to his injury — on Wednesday. The sophomore was in obvious pain and did not play up to his usual offensive standard.
Hurley added that Bouknight has been extremely limited in practice as well.
The potential NBA lottery pick has routinely delivered for a UConn offense that otherwise has had trouble finding consistent scoring threats. The Huskies have seen glimpses from Tyrese Martin, Josh Carlton, and Tyler Polley but have yet to find a second guy they can count on.
One of UConn’s most vital strengths has been its ability to stifle three-point scoring. Butler is No. 84 in KenPom this season, seventh in the Big East, but has a deadly shooting pair of Jair Bolden and Chuck Harris. Each player has shot over 40% from three this season.
To go along with the missed offensive production if Bouknight misses the game, they lose an option in their backcourt to defend Butler’s shooting.
Bouknight could still contribute Saturday, but if he’s the type of offensive player he was in the second half against Marquette, then the Huskies are going to need others to step up.
The Huskies saw their first player recruited by Hurley leave the program as Javonte Brown, a freshman from Toronto and a four-star recruit, entered the transfer portal.
“It’s a pretty rare thing that a player I recruited has left me,” Hurley said. “You feel like you didn’t do a good enough job that somebody didn’t want to stay with you and stick it out, but I understand the culture of our sport.”
Hurley said he had not anticipated Brown’s move elsewhere and it happened “very suddenly.”
The 7-footer told the New Haven Register that he left because former UConn assistant coach Kenya Hunter, the coach that recruited Brown, left the program in August.
- UConn announced that its game against No. 3 Villanova has been postponed. A makeup game has not yet been rescheduled.
- Hurley reiterated that the program is going to wait until Akok Akok is ready to bring him back from injury.
- Hurley said his wife, Andrea, gave him a high-five when he got home at 3:30 a.m. after UConn’s win over Marquette last week.