When: Tuesday, December 20 — 6:30 p.m.
Where: Gampel Pavilion — Storrs, Connecticut
Radio: UConn Sports Network
Odds: UConn -23, over/under 146.5
KenPom Predicted Score: UConn 86, Georgetown 60
With a convincing win on the road against Butler, UConn men’s basketball remained No. 1 in KenPom and crept up to No. 2 in this week’s AP Poll. The Huskies return home for their final game at Gampel Pavilion of 2022 to take on a lowly Georgetown squad that features former UConn starter Akok Akok.
If anyone other than NBA Hall of Famer and Hoyas legend Patrick Ewing was coaching Georgetown, they would probably have been fired by now. Ewing’s Hoyas are 5-7, but have zero wins against anyone in KenPom’s top 200. Their best player at the start of their season — star guard Dante Harris — transferred and recently committed to Virginia.
Even after going 0-19 in the Big East last season, there was some hope for this team to not be in the conference’s cellar this season after pulling together a solid transfer class that included getting big man Qudus Wahab to return and snagging Akok Akok from UConn, amongst others. That hasn’t really panned out so far, and this Georgetown team is about the same as last year. The tilt with the Hoyas is the easiest game left on UConn’s schedule per KenPom, and the Huskies should handle the Georgetown at home with ease and hope that Ewing makes it to early February so the Huskies can do the same on the road in Washington, D.C.
When Georgetown has the ball
With Dante Harris gone, Duquesne transfer and Hartford native Primo Spears and LSU transfer Brandon Murray have stabilized the backcourt. The duo are the top two scorers for the Hoyas, averaging 17.6 and 15.1 points per game respectively. Spears, a sophomore, is not much of a 3-point shooter but is efficient around the rim and is solid at the free-throw line, converting over 80 percent of his attempts. The 6-foot-5 Murray offers more size and shooting ability (36.4 percent from beyond the arc) than Spears, and both are talented distributors that can move the ball around to find the open man.
In the frontcourt, the reunion with Wahab has worked out well so far, with the 6-foot-11 senior averaging 10.8 points and 7.7 rebounds this season. His frontcourt partner Akok isn’t connecting as well from deep, shooting just 30 percent this season, but remains a floor-stretching big man that is a tough matchup for the likes of Adama Sanogo and the rest of the Huskies’ frontcourt.
The Hoyas don’t shoot the ball well overall, but are a solid offensive team and have enough size and skill to do damage. They limit turnovers and use their size to score, although the latter tactic could be a problem against a Huskies team that can match their size at nearly every position.
When UConn has the ball
While the Hoyas frontcourt of Wahab and Akok is no slouch, Georgetown does an awful job of preventing opponents to rebound when the Hoyas are on defense. Opponents post an offensive rebound percentage of 33.6 percent against the Hoyas, which gives Georgetown one of the worst ranks in the NCAA, at No. 312. Sanogo, Donovan Clingan and Andre Jackson should be able to capitalize on this weakness and extend possessions by grabbing multiple offensive boards throughout the night.
Akok also remains an elite shot-blocker and will be contesting just about anything in the paint that the Huskies bring in. With Wahab likely spending time on Sanogo, Alex Karaban or possibly Clingan will need to try and stretch the floor from either the perimeter or high post to keep Akok from altering shots in the paint.
A Sanogo-Clingan lineup still hasn’t happened yet this season, but a late game rollout against the Hoyas, where the game should be out of hand, might be the time to give it a try. Clingan and Sanogo would match up well on both ends with Wahab and Akok respectively and give UConn a bigger look that could dominate the glass on both ends.
After struggling early on this season, Nahiem Alleyne is starting to look like the 3-point sharpshooter that made him a coveted transfer portal target out of Virginia Tech. The senior hit a pair of outside shots against LIU, then followed it up with three more in the win over Butler. Since December, Alleyne has made six of his nine 3-point attempts over four games, evidence of his career 38.1 percent 3-point shooting skills. If he can continue to connect from deep, he will be an invaluable spark plug alongside the likes of Clingan and Joey Calcaterra off the UConn bench.