Boston U.-UConn Preview
Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie doesn't want his players holding onto the ball too long, an up-tempo strategy that's working well for his outstanding foursome.
Coming off a huge offensive performance, the 19th-ranked Huskies look for their 51st consecutive home win against a non-conference opponent Sunday when they take on unbeaten Boston in the second round of the 2K Sports Classic.
UConn (3-0) opened the tournament in impressive fashion Thursday when Omar Calhoun led six players in double figures with 17 points in a 101-55 victory over visiting Detroit.
Niels Giffey matched a career high with 15 points off the bench, going 5 for 6 from the field. The senior swingman is shooting 15 for 18 through three games, including 11 of 13 from 3-point range.
The Huskies had 21 assists on 35 field goals against the Titans while shooting a season-best 57.4 percent and 11 for 19 from beyond the arc. They also cracked 100 points for the first time since a 103-47 win over Tennessee-Chattanooga in the first round of the 2009 NCAA tournament.
Through three games, fast-paced Connecticut is averaging 86.3 points and ranks third nationally in 3-point percentage (54.2) and ninth in field-goal percentage (55.2).
"We have a lot of depth and we've got some good players around that draw defenders and it makes it easier for other guys," said Calhoun, who leads the Huskies with 15.0 points per game. "It makes it fun for everyone out there on the court."
Shabazz Napier has done it all for the Huskies, totaling 42 points, 26 rebounds and 25 assists while hitting 4 of 5 from 3-point range. The senior guard had his second career triple-double with 14 points, 10 assists and 11 boards in Monday's 80-62 win over Yale.
Along with Calhoun, Giffey (14.3) and Napier (14.0), Ryan Boatright has given UConn a fourth player averaging at least 11.7 points. The junior guard finished with 12 points, seven assists and six boards Thursday.
The balanced Huskies seek their 22nd win in 24 meetings against the Terriers (2-0), who are off to their best start since 2000-01.
While UConn hasn't dropped a home game to a non-conference opponent since a 77-73 loss to Indiana on Jan. 20, 2007, Boston hasn't beaten a ranked foe in any venue since 1959.
"We're more focused than ever," said sophomore Maurice Watson Jr., who has 34 points on 16-of-26 shooting in his first two games. "This is another obstacle for us to get where we want to go and we're just going to go right at them like we would anybody else."
The Terriers, a favorite to win the Patriot League, opened the season with a 72-69 win over Northeastern last Sunday before rolling past Massachusetts-Lowell 91-65 on Wednesday.
Senior forward Dom Morris leads Boston with 39 points and 14 rebounds after scoring a career-high 27 with 10 boards against the River Hawks.
Standout guard D.J. Irving, however, hopes to get on track after missing 12 of 15 field goal attempts in the two games.
That could be a difficult challenge against Connecticut, which is second in the nation with 26 blocked shots, led by freshman Amida Brimah's 14.
The Huskies, who hold a 41-12 edge in the all-time series, defeated the visiting Terriers 92-64 in the most recent matchup on Dec. 2, 2009.