Connecticut-Seton Hall Preview

BY foxsports • February 4, 2011

Kemba Walker still leads the Big East in scoring, but there's no doubt that he's struggling - as is Connecticut.

The sixth-ranked Huskies hope to get Walker untracked Saturday night and avoid a third straight loss as they look to defeat Seton Hall for the 11th straight time.

Walker is averaging 23.4 points to lead the conference, but he's at 16.4 on 30.7 percent shooting over the last five games. Connecticut (17-4, 5-4) has lost two straight, with Walker missing 27 of 37 shots and averaging 14.0 points.

"Kemba's struggling right now and we as a team are struggling," coach Jim Calhoun said.

The Huskies were a major surprise during their 10-0 start, but the rough-and-tumble Big East seems to have worn Walker down. He leads the league with 7.1 free-throw attempts per game, but has totaled 18 over the last four.

"He's playing 36 minutes a game, getting a lot of attention, getting banged around an awful lot," Calhoun said. "He's got bumps and bruises all over the place.

"And I think very simply I haven't had a great player unless he's had a lot of help and remember his help is predominantly five freshmen and a sophomore."

Calhoun starts three freshmen and sophomore center Alex Oriakhi along with Walker. Jeremy Lamb is the lone freshman playing well, averaging 22.3 points in the last three games.

UConn has turned in two straight poor shooting efforts, connecting at 36.2 percent in a 66-58 loss to No. 17 Syracuse on Wednesday and 37.7 percent last Saturday in a 79-78 double-overtime loss to then-No. 23 Louisville.

"Some of our young kids have seem to hit the wall a little bit, with Jeremy being the exception," Calhoun said.

UConn should feel confident against Seton Hall (10-13, 4-7), which has not won in this series since a 65-63 victory March 3, 2001. The Pirates, in their first season under coach Kevin Willard, have lost five of seven at home.

"We're a new staff here," assistant coach Shaheen Holloway said. "It's our first game against them."

Seton Hall missed a chance at its first Big East three-game win streak with Wednesday's 56-44 loss at then-No. 25 West Virginia. The Pirates shot below 30 percent for the third time, finishing at 29.5 percent.

Calhoun said that he's worried about the matchup problems the Pirates create because they employ a smaller lineup with every starter 6-foot-8 or shorter. The Huskies have three starters at least that tall.

Seton Hall is concerned about matching up with Walker, who is averaging 9.7 points and 3.0 assists in three previous matchups.

"Kemba Walker's playing out of his mind," Holloway said. "He's one of the best guards in all of college basketball. So our mind-set is to try to contain him and not let the support players get off."

Pirates top scorer Jeremy Hazell made 1 of 8 shots for five points last Saturday. Hazell is averaging 18.8 points on 31.3 percent shooting in four games against UConn.

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