Connecticut Heads to Providence Looking to Stay on Track

By Ryan Darcy
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Shabazz Napier and the Connecticut Huskies make the 50-mile drive to the Dunkin’  Donuts Center in downtown Providence to take on Bryce Cotton and the Friars in a Big East Conference showdown.

Both teams come in towards the bottom of the Big East standings. The Huskies for a much-needed win over Rutgers the last time out in an ugly 66-54 win to snap a mini two-game losing streak. The Friars have dropped their past two and are 2-8 in their last 10 games. Providence won the last meeting 72-70.

While Providence has a better trio of scorers in Cotton, LaDantae Henton and Kadeem Batts, it’s the Huskies that are more balanced offensively. Napier, Ryan Boatright, Omar Calhoun and DeAndre Daniels lead a Husky team that averages just over 70 points per game.

Providence has a big advantage on the boards (37.3 rpg to 32.2 rpg) so the UConn is going to need to maintain their hot hand from the floor. Connecticut shoots 46 percent from the floor, which helps account for their rebounding deficiency.

UConn’s offense is spearheaded by one of the best backcourts in the Big East featuring Napier and Boatright. Combined, the two average over 32 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals per game. Cotton and point guard Vincent Council will have their hands full all night but have proven time and time again they’re good enough to handle it.

Both teams are evenly matched on defense but UConn has a little more inside presence thanks to bigs Daniels, Enosch Wolf and Tyler Olander manning the paint and altering shots, something UConn has become known for. The Friars don’t shoot great from the floor to begin with (42%) and with these two contesting shots all game, things won’t suddenly turn around for Providence.

Providence will have to limit their turnovers and dominate the boards in order to win what should be a hotly contested game throughout. The Huskies should be able to pick up a road win, and head coach Kevin Ollie will have his team ready to move above .500 mark in conference.

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