The UConn men’s basketball team returns to action Friday as they continue their winter break slate against SEC opponent Auburn at the XL Center in Hartford. Friday’s game represents the second all-time meeting between the two programs and the first since 1989.
The Huskies (5-5) enter Friday in their finest form of the season, having won three of their last four games, including an 80-59 rout of North Florida this past Sunday at Gampel Pavilion.
Senior forward Kentan Facey powered UConn past North Florida with a career-high 20 points, while adding nine rebounds and four blocks. Guard Jalen Adams contributed a double-double in the win, posting 13 points and 10 assists, while three other Huskies scored in double digits. Facey, Amida Brimah and Steven Enoch each finished with four blocks.
By beating North Florida, UConn picked up their first Gampel Pavilion win of the season, after a pair of November losses in the building. The Huskies have clawed back to the .500 mark with their play in the last four games, in which they’ve held opponents to a 31 percent shooting mark from the field, and will have a chance Friday to move above the .500 mark before American Athletic Conference play begins Dec. 28.
The Auburn Tigers (9-2) enter the game fresh off their most impressive win of the season, as they topped Oklahoma 74-70 in the Hall of Fame’s Birthday of Basketball Game at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Before that win, Auburn was just 1-2 in games against their fellow Power Five competition, with a win over Texas Tech and losses to Purdue and Boston College. The Tigers beat North Florida 83-66 at home on Nov. 11.
Auburn’s leading scorer is freshman and Connecticut native Mustapha Heron, who returns to his home state averaging 16.0 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting from the field. Heron also leads the team with 6.7 rebounds per game.
Forward Danjel Punfoy is another important cog in the Tigers’ offense. Punfoy scores 15.5 points per game and leads the team with 27 three-point field goals. Jared Harper has knocked down 23 three-point field goals for Auburn.
Ten games into the 2016-17 season, UConn is led in scoring by Adams, who averages 17.4 points per game on a 48.6 shooting mark from the field. The only healthy Husky joining him in double digits is Rodney Purvis, who averages 12.1 points and shoots 33 percent from long range.
Facey and Brimah average 5.8 and 5.6 rebounds per game, respectively, while Adams notches 5.8 assists per game. Brimah also averages three blocks per game.
UConn and Auburn will tip off at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the XL Center in Hartford. The game will be televised on ESPN2.