Following a 1-2 performance in the Battle 4 Atlantis, the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team will take on Sacred Heart at the XL Center on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The Huskies (4-2) are coming off back to back losses against Syracuse and Gonzaga, after having defeated Michigan earlier in the tournament.
This will be UConn’s first game at the XL Center of the season. There are eight games total that will be played in Hartford.
UConn will face Sacred Heart (1-4) for the first time in nine years. The Pioneers are looking to snap a four game losing streak.
“It’s a team of slashers. It’s going to be different than what we’ve faced,” coach Kevin Ollie said. “Michigan was averaging 30 (three point attempts per game), Syracuse, Gonzaga was averaging about 25 (three point attempts per game)…I’m looking for more slashing.”
They are led in scoring by East Hartford native Cane Broome. The freshman is averaging 23.2 points per game. Senior forward Tevin Falzon is leading the team in rebounding with 8.5 a game.
“Cane is a wonderful player. I know him from coming up over here,” Ollie said. “They’re Connecticut guys. They’re going to come in, really focused trying to prove a point. Hopefully our guys understand it’s not about the jersey. We have to be up for every game. We can’t let any game get away, any possession slip away.
For the first time in the 2015-16 season, the Huskies are out of the AP Top 25. However, they did receive the next most amount of votes, so they are widely seen as the 26th ranked team in the nation.
“It’s not bulletin board material for us,” Ollie said. “We’ve got to get to playing. We just have to beat the teams in front of us, then we’ll be back in the top 25.
The Huskies were tough-luck losers in the Bahamas, dropping both games to Syracuse and Gonzaga by just three points. Despite the poor results, Ollie seemed encouraged by his team’s performance.
“We were resilient at times. They showed me that they can lock up a high quality team for a long time,” Ollie said. “We easily could have made excuses, three games in 39 hours, three in 41, whatever it was. They have no quit in them…I’ve seen things that I like, it just has to be more consistent.”
UConn is led in scoring by junior guard Rodney Purvis (13.3 ppg), grad forward Shonn Miller (12.5), grad guard Sterling Gibbs (12.3) and sophomore forward Daniel Hamilton (12.3). Hamilton also leads the team in rebounding (8.8 rpg) and assists (6.2 apg).
UConn leads the all-time series 5-0 over Sacred Heart. In their last matchup, the Huskies took care of business, winning 89-46 at Gampel Pavilion in November 2006.
In less than a week, the Huskies have a date with No. 02 Maryland at Madison Square Garden. It is imperative that UConn handles their business against a lesser Sacred Heart squad to build momentum and confidence heading into that clash.
The Huskies head to Hartford for an interstate contest with the Pioneers. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the XL Center.