Men's Basketball: Rolling Huskies look to sweep Owls in Philly
Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2014 00:02
Since losing to Louisville on Jan. 18, the UConn men’s basketball team is 6-1 with an average margin of victory 23.3 points.
The hot streak began on Jan. 21 with a 90-66 win over Temple. On Thursday, the No. 21 Huskies will go for the season sweep of the Owls at Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.
UConn’s 90 points at the XL Center was the third-highest total of the season (101 against Detroit and 95 against Maine) and the most the Huskies (20-5, 8-4 American Athletic Conference) have scored in a conference game.
“To get 90 points, I don’t care who you’re playing – we’ve played Division II teams and haven’t scored 90 points,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said after the Jan. 21 win. “Temple has some great players over there, and a lot of pride. I love (Temple) coach Fran Dunphy to death and I think he’s going to get that team back going in the right direction.”
The Owls (7-17, 2-10) have not changed direction since that game. Temple is 2-5 in the seven games since, however the second win came in the Owls’ last game, a 71-64 upset over then-No. 23 SMU.
Temple’s win over the Mustangs came without leading rebounder Anthony Lee, who was sidelined with a knee injury. Lee, who averages 14 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, is listed as day-to-day.
In the first contest between UConn and Temple, Lee was obsolete. He scored 14 points but was held without a rebound as UConn powered its way to a 45-25 edge on the glass.
The Huskies rebounding was its biggest weakness at the start of the season, but they are now averaging 36.5 rebounds per game and have a margin of plus-two. Meanwhile, Temple ranks last in the conference with a margin of minus-2.6 per game.
UConn enters the game in the midst of a three-game winning streak and riding the momentum of one of its best, most trying performances of the season, an 86-81 overtime win over then-No. 20 Memphis.
Shabazz Napier, the reigning AAC Player of the Week, led the Huskies in scoring with a career-high 34 points, moving into eighth on the all-time scoring list with 1,688. Next on the list is Kemba Walker, who has 1,783.
Ryan Boatright also made history Saturday, becoming the 48th player in UConn history to reach 1,000 career points. The junior scored 21 in the win and now has 1,020 for his career.
Despite climbing to 47th on the all-time scoring list, Boatright has had trouble scoring at times this season. Saturday was the first time he reached 20 points all season, and he had not scored more than 15 since dropping 19 in the Dec. 31 loss at Houston.
“He might not be shooting well,” Ollie said after UConn’s win over Memphis on Saturday, “but I can never question his heart and his effort and his enthusiasm to win...Ryan has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever been around.”
Thursday’s game tips off at 9 p.m. and will air on ESPN2.