Men's Basketball: Huskies look to rebound against last-place Temple
UConn's first season in the American Athletic Conference has not started well, with the team dropping three of its first five conference games. Now, trailing the conference-leading Cincinnati by 3 1/2 games, the Huskies (14-4, 2-3 American) are looking to make up some ground when they host the Temple Owls Tuesday night at the XL Center.
"We're desperate," UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said. "We need a win. We need to protect our house. We need to protect our home court."
The Huskies will be playing their third game in six days and the first in Hartford since the Dec. 18 loss to Stanford.
"[The energy] is good in practice, that's the first step," Ollie said. "The other teams go through the same things we're going through, so they are not going to feel sorry for us. [Temple] is going to give us their best shot so we've got to be ready for them."
The Owls, who posted six consecutive 20-win seasons in the Atlantic 10 Conference, have struggled in their inaugural season in the American as well, losing all five conference games so far and sitting last in the standings while holding a 5-11 record overall. Ollie, however, completely disregards that number.
"Their record is out the window," Ollie said. "That's not a 5-11 team, they got talent. Their pick-and-roll offense is great and they are shooting the ball unbelievably."
Temple is shooting 45 percent from the field and boasts four players who are averaging 14 or more points per game, with guards Dalton Pepper and Quenton DeCosey leading the way with 17.3 and 16.4, respectively. The team is also shooting 37 percent from 3-point range with both Pepper and DeCosey shooting above 40 percent.
The Owls hold a slight rebounding edge over the Huskies as well at 36.5-35.4 per game. Junior Anthony Lee alone grabs an average of 9.9 rebounds per game and Ollie "hopes" the 6-foot-9 forward does not have a similar performance to Louisville's Montrezl Harrell on Saturday night, when he scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
"What [Lee] does do, in the same as Harrell, is that their activity is amazing, their energy is amazing," Ollie said. "We'd like say 'match that,' but I don't say that. I want him to match our intensity and our activity, and DeAndre [Daniels] can do that. I know he can do that and I know whoever I put at the 4-spot can do that. We've got to make him work."
The Huskies could be without Ryan Boatright Tuesday night as the junior guard flew home to Chicago, Ill. to be with his family following last Monday's death of his cousin, Arin Williams. Ollie is "50-50" on the chances of Boatright returning prior to the game.
"I'm planning on him not being back, and making sure Terrence [Samuel] is ready and making sure Lasan [Kromah] plays a little bit of point guard and getting ready to play just in case of foul trouble," Ollie said. "If Boatright comes back, it'd be great, but if he doesn't, it's next man up. We've got to play and that's why we have a great bench."
Tipoff for Tuesday night's contest is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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