When: Sunday, January 15 — 12 p.m
hope: XL Middle – Hartford, Connecticut
radio: UConn Sports activities Community
Potentialities: UConn -14.5, over/below 151.5 (odds through Borgata)
Predicted KenPom Rating: UConn 82, St. John’s 68 — 91 p.c chance of profitable
UConn has been by its hardest stretch of the common season, however did not come out unscathed. After hitting the highway for matchups with Xavier, Windfall and Marquette, the Huskies didn’t win any battles with among the Massive East’s greatest. Whereas it wasn’t all dangerous — UConn dealt with Creighton at Gampel Pavilion to snap a two-game shedding streak — the Huskies had three Massive East losses, and worst of all, appeared to lose at instances within the ultimate minutes of their 82-76 loss to Marquette.
Whereas freshmen Donovan Clingan (20 factors in 21 minutes) and Alex Karaban (17 factors) did every part they might offensively, different members of the workforce couldn’t rise up. Adama Sanogo turned in his worst sport of the season with 10 factors and 5 turnovers, and Jordan Hawkins made only one basket from the sphere. Mix that with considerably ineffective play from the bench guards (5 whole factors) and high quality capturing for Marquette on the opposite finish, and the method is there for an additional ranked highway loss – the seventeenth in a row for the Huskies.
With the hardest exams of the season within the rearview mirror, UConn seems to be to return to the type of a workforce that began the yr with 14 wins in opposition to high quality opponents. It began with a bunch of St. John who’s normally all pores and skin and no chunk. Whereas the Purple Storm have a gifted backcourt in Posh Alexander and Andre Curbelo, UConn ought to be capable to deal with the Johnnies and get again to their profitable methods in the event that they need to be Massive East contenders.
Regardless of three highway losses, the Huskies now have all however Creighton left to play at dwelling. If UConn can win these video games, a frightening however achievable activity, the trail to a regular-season Massive East title continues to be vast open. Nevertheless it requires a brand new degree of execution and precision that the workforce does not appear to have proven constantly for practically a month once they simply dealt with Butler on the highway of their convention opener.
What to be careful for
If UConn has the ball: There isn’t a means round it; Clingan ought to play extra minutes. The Bristol freshman dominated the Golden Eagles on Wednesday night time for 20 factors and 10 boards together with 5 blocks in simply 20 minutes of labor.
Having two elite facilities in Sanogo and Clingan is a novel downside for Hurley to have, however the head coach should discover a solution to work him into extra lineups. Regardless of the 2 greats taking part in the identical place, it is a way more drastic change than most understand.
Clingan shouldn’t be the post-up menace that Sanogo is, which would require some main adjustments in a four-out and one-on-one offense that’s primarily constructed round Sanogo. However Clingan nonetheless dominates by crashing the boards and rolling laborious off screens and is a gifted shot blocker on protection. Whether or not taking part in each, taking part in extra zone to dam Clingan within the center, or simply taking part in Clingan at Sanogo’s expense, the freshman earned the correct to extra minutes and confirmed the impression he can have in nearly any sport.
Within the backcourt, the Huskies’ guard woes prolonged to Jordan Hawkins, who was barely efficient in opposition to Marquette after capturing 1-8 from the sphere. Sans Andre Jackson, the remainder of the backcourt wasn’t significantly better, as Joey Calcaterra, Nahiem Alleyne and Hassan Diarra mixed for 5 factors on 2-9 capturing. With Tristen Newton additionally sputtering, the backcourt cannot afford to be with out some sort of manufacturing from Hawkins, a projected first-round draft choose. He must proceed to run ball screens to get open and work within the paint with the ball at instances as a result of groups will not permit him to see across the arc simply.
If the St. John’s having a ball:
Mike Anderson’s St. John likes to play quick and use the break for simple transition buckets. The Purple Storm are second within the nation in tempo and can seemingly look to make Sunday’s sport a observe meet — one thing that does not bode properly for a Huskies workforce that normally strikes properly.
The Johnnies stay sturdy on offense — they do not shoot threes properly (32.3 p.c), to allow them to’t shoot a lot of them, rating on the backside of the NCAA in 3-point share tried. As an alternative, they rely closely on the greats Joel Soriano and David Jones. Soriano, at 6-foot-11, dominated the boards at each ends and led St. John’s to attain 16.4 factors per sport. Jones is the workforce’s high choice with a 27 p.c utilization price and is just under Soriano at 13.6 factors per sport.
Jones is not a brilliant environment friendly scorer, however makes use of his measurement properly and tries to stretch the ground a bit, capturing 32 p.c on practically 100 makes an attempt. After Karaban was singled out on protection in Marquette’s loss, Jackson seemingly guarded Jones whereas Karaban took 6-foot-4 Dylan Addae-Wusu.
Within the backcourt, Curbelo, a touted switch from Illinois, serves as the ground basic of the offense, averaging 5.2 assists per sport. He’s joined within the backcourt by Alexander, a preseason All-Massive East First Group choice.
Whereas principally identified for his protection, Alexander broke out final season as a sophomore, averaging 13.8 factors per sport with three 20-plus efforts. To this point, Alexander has not recovered that magic, averaging solely 9.8 factors per sport and reaching double figures in solely half of his video games. Nonetheless, UConn’s guards might want to hold Curbelo and Alexander out of the lane and power them to take as many deep pictures as doable, as Alexander is capturing below 20 p.c from three. season. If the Huskies can hold Soriano off the boards at each ends – a giant activity for Clingan and Sanogo – and clog up the paint to forestall guards from getting inside, the Huskies ought to be capable to draw back and get their fifth. convention win.