It wasn’t always pretty, particularly when it came to shooting, but UConn men’s basketball rode its defense and size advantage to a 31-point victory on Tuesday against Stonehill in the Skyhawks’ first-ever Division I game.
Friday will see a small step up in competition as Boston University comes to open the Gampel Pavilion portion of the home slate. The Terriers are 1-0 after Northeastern made the arduous 2.5-mile journey to Case Gym and BU walked away with a 72-63 win. Boston University is ranked No. 234 in KenPom as of the start of play on Friday, so UConn should not have much trouble in this one.
When: Friday, Nov. 11 — 6 p.m.
Where: Gampel Pavilion — Storrs, Connecticut
Radio: UConn Sports Network
Odds: UConn -19.5, over/under 139.5 (odds via Borgata)
KenPom Predicted Score: UConn 80, Boston University 60
When UConn has the ball
This will continue to be a theme with teams in non-conference play that aren’t Florida, Oklahoma State, or in the Phil Knight Invitational. Adama Sanogo, Samson Johnson, and Donovan Clingan will continue to feast against these smaller teams. Nevin Sink, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound senior, is not small by any stretch, but the trio of Husky big men shouldn’t have any trouble getting open looks inside, particularly when Sink is off the floor, as only one other player that had more than 10 minutes against Northeastern is heavier than 200 pounds.
Returning to Gampel Pavilion may also help with outside shooting. UConn was 5-for-24 from beyond the arc against Stonehill, including a combined 0-for-10 performance by Nahiem Alleyne, Tristen Newton, and Jordan Hawkins. While Hawkins will miss this game, Alleyne and Newton may be able to find their shooting touch at their on-campus home.
Like Stonehill, it’s likely that UConn is never threatened and puts it away early, which means that the depth pieces may get a bigger look. Due to the injury to Hawkins, Joey Calcaterra played 21 minutes in the season opener and was effective from beyond the arc. It’s likely he plays a significant role again.
When Boston University has the ball
Despite the size disparity, the Terriers do have one thing that may keep it closer than UConn may like: experience. Boston University is the 36th-most experienced team in Division I according to KenPom and started four seniors, with one junior. The three underclassmen that appeared against Northeastern on Monday combined to play 25 minutes and this is the majority of a team that won 22 games last season.
The Terriers also have length at guard and on the wing, which makes up for their lack of size on the post. Of the 11 players that appeared against Northeastern, eight of them are 6-foot-5 or taller, including 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward Walter Whyte, a Connecticut native who scored 27 points on Monday and had the second-highest usage rate on the team behind guard Jonas Harper, the only two players in double figures for Boston University. Whyte can also step out, as he was 6-for-9 from beyond the arc and is a career 34.8 percent shooter.
No other player seemed to be a scoring threat for the Terriers, as the rest of the team shot 8-for-25 on 2-pointers, while Whyte and Harper were each 4-for-7 on inside shots. If UConn can contain Harper and Whyte and make someone else beat them, then it could be a tough day for the visitors.