Men's Basketball: UConn vs. Houston preview capsule

Amida Brimah blows past the USF defense to slam home a dunk during UConn's 77-66 win over the Bulls on Thursday, March 9, 2017 at the XL Center in Hartford. The Huskies will take on Houston tonight at 9 p.m. in the second round of the conference tournament. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Time and Place: 9 p.m. Friday at XL Center in Hartford

Where to Watch: ESPNU, channel 50.2 on Storrs TV listings

Last Meeting: Houston won 75-70, on Feb. 22 at Hofheinz Pavilion in Houston, Texas

UConn’s Previous Tournament Game: 77-66 win over USF Thursday

Houston’s Previous Tournament Game: First-round bye

 

Projected Starting Lineups: No. 6 UConn (15-16) vs. No. 3 Houston (21-9)

G: Jalen Adams vs. Galen Robinson Jr.

Adams continues to play through an injury, which clearly hampered him in UConn’s win over USF. Adams posted just eight points and four rebounds while turning the ball over four times. Robinson averages 4.7 assists per game, and has the 43rd best assist/turnover ratio in the country.

G: Christian Vital vs. Rob Gray

Freshman Vance Jackson, who just recovered from a concussion, came off the bench against USF, which put Vital into the starting lineup. The freshman guard scored 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting, but shot just 1-for-5 from the free throw line. Gray is the American’s leading scorer at 20.3 points per game, and the only player in the conference averaging more than 20 points per game.

F: Rodney Purvis vs. Damyean Dotson

Purvis set a new career-high against USF, scoring 30 points on 9-for-17 shooting, including a 3-for-6 mark from 3-point range and a 9-for-10 showing at the free throw line. The senior also added six rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Dotson sits just behind Gray with 17.4 points per game.

F: Kentan Facey vs. Danrad Knowles

Facey was a non-factor against USF, posting just two points and three rebounds due to foul trouble and poor shooting. It was his second consecutive poor performance, following up on a bad day against Cincinnati on Senior Day. Knowles splits time with fellow power forward Devin Davis, and the two combine to average 9.1 rebounds per game.

C: Amida Brimah vs. Kyle Meyer

Brimah finished with 13 points against USF, which was good for second on the team in scoring behind Purvis. Meyer had an impressive nine-point, 11-rebound showing in his last game against UConn.

 

Talking Points

Round Two: After a win over USF, UConn is on to the second round of the American Athletic Conference Championship. Their NCAA tournament hopes rest with the automatic bid won from this tournament, and a difficult uphill climb sits ahead of them to do so. A win over Houston would likely lead to a showdown with Cincinnati Saturday.

Postseason Purvis: Again, Purvis delivered a signature performance in an American Championship game, scoring a career-high 30 points against USF. The second-highest total of his career came in this tournament against SMU two years ago, when he scored 29 points in a loss.

Dynamic Duo: Gray and Dotson combine to average 37.7 points per game from the perimeter for the Cougars, and they have taken turns gashing the Huskies this season. Gray scored 20 when Houston won Dec. 28 in Connecticut, and Dotson scored 25 when Houston won Feb. 22 in Texas.

 

The K.O. Report (quotes from UConn head coach Kevin Ollie)

On what UConn needs to focus on against Houston: “Rebound and transition.”

On what needs to be cleaned up from Thursday’s win: “We can’t have 16 turnovers. We’ve got to shoot the ball better. We’ve got to execute on the offensive end. Because if you want to play good defensive transition, you have to do well in the offensive end.

On defending the 3-point shot against Houston: “You have to play better pick-and-roll defense and better one-on-one defense, and all five have to control the pick-and-roll. It’s not two players. It’s not the guy with the ball, not the defensive guy. It’s the guy setting the screen. It’s everybody low, everybody getting out and playing defense like UConn is able to do, and hopefully we can have them miss some shots.”


Tyler Keating is associate sports editor for The Daily Campus, covering men’s basketball. He can be reached via email at tyler.keating@uconn.edu. He tweets @tylerskeating.