Coll. of Charleston-UConn Preview

BY foxsports • November 19, 2014

After winning last season's national title, Ryan Boatright expects Connecticut to have a number of close games - perhaps even against unheralded opponents.

If their Puerto Rico Tip-Off opener against the College of Charleston on Thursday gets tough, the No. 17 Huskies could get some help as Rodney Purvis makes his UConn debut.

Connecticut had to rally from a nine-point deficit early in the second half for a 66-53 win against Bryant in Friday's season opener. Boatright scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half and had a career high-tying eight rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Bryant limited the Huskies to 34.4 percent shooting in the first half, but UConn made 14 of its 22 shots (63.6 percent) over the final 20 minutes.

"This is a young team. We're going to play some good teams. We just won a national championship so we're going to get everyone's best shot," Boatright said. "We're not going to blow everyone out. We've got to have that resiliency and stay together and grind out those tough wins."

The Huskies could have another player to contribute with Purvis slated to play his first game for the program. The sophomore guard averaged 8.3 points and made 23 starts for North Carolina State in 2012-13 before transferring and sitting out this past season.

The former high school all-American and North Carolina prep player of the year had to wait a little longer to appear in his first game for UConn because he violated an NCAA rule by playing in two summer leagues. Purvis is expected to start for the Huskies.

Omar Calhoun also sat out the opener after spraining a right knee ligament during a preseason practice, and his status in unknown for UConn's first appearance in Puerto Rico.

In the tournament opener, the Huskies will face a Charleston team coming off an 80-67 loss to Gardner-Webb in its home opener Monday. Sophomore guard Joe Chealey had 17 points, one shy of matching a career high, after scoring five in a 75-40 rout of Furman on Friday.

Anthony Stitt leads the team with 15.5 points per game, while preseason all-Colonial Athletic Association honoree Adjehi Baru is averaging 13.0 points and 10.0 rebounds.

The Huskies are 2-0 all-time against the Cougars, whom they haven't faced since a 77-60 win in Charleston on Dec. 27, 1995.

Charleston has won two of its last six against ranked teams but has been beaten by a combined 64 points in its previous two, both against Louisville over the last two seasons.

"Second year in a row for us to play the national champions," Chealey told Charleston's official website. "We will be more prepared, because we will have (UConn) on a neutral court. We played Louisville tough last year. Until the last five minutes, we were right there. We know UConn is going to be prepared and will not take this game lightly. It should be a fun game and I'm looking forward to it."

The Huskies will face either Dayton, which received seven votes in the latest AP poll, or Texas A&M in its next game Friday. The tournament championship is Sunday, and the field also includes Boston College, George Mason, New Mexico and West Virginia.