Men's Basketball: UConn vs. Cincinnati preview capsule

Jalen Adams begins to move the ball past Houston defenders in UConn's 74-65 win over Houston on Friday, March 10 at the XL Center in Hartford. Adams and the Huskies will battle rival Cincinnati in the semifinals today. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Time and Place: 5 p.m. Saturday, March 11 at the XL Center

Where to Watch: ESPN2, channel 42.4 on UConn TV listings

Last Meeting: UConn lost 67-47 on March 5, 2017 at Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies are 13-10 all-time against the Bearcats.

UConn’s Last Time Out: 74-65 win over Houston on March 10 in the AAC quarterfinals

Cincinnati’s Last Time Out: 81-60 win over Tulsa on March 10 in the AAC quarterfinals
 

Projected Starting Lineups: UConn (16-16) vs. Cincinnati (28-4)

G: Jalen Adams vs. Troy Caupain

Adams played one of his most well-rounded offensive games Friday, scoring 23 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the floor, complimented by a 9-for-10 night at the free throw line. Sportsmanship award winner Caupain played similarly in his game against Tulsa, scoring 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting, including going 3-for-6 from three. He also grabbed a team-best seven rebounds.

G/F: Rodney Purvis vs. Jacob Evans

Purvis continued to play a solid all-around game against Houston, going 6-for-11 from the floor and 4-for-5 from the charity stripe for a total of 18 points, including a team-high six rebounds. Evans had the most efficient performance for Cincy in his last game, going 8-for-10 from the field, highlighted by sinking all three of his 3-point attempts for a total of 20 points.

C/F: Amida Brimah vs. Kyle Washington

Brimah got into some foul trouble early on and played only 13 minutes against Houston, but his defensive impact in that short time was tremendous. He recorded two crucial blocks down the stretch to prevent the Cougars from mounting another comeback. Washington, on the other hand, had the best offensive day for Cincy, going 8-for-10 overall from the floor and 5-for-5 from the free throw line for a game-high 21 points.

F: Kentan Facey vs. Gary Clark

Facey’s struggled continued against Houston, hitting only one field goal out of three attempts and only notching five rebounds, though the one shot he hit—a floater following a huge offensive rebound—turned out to be big. Clark faced similar struggles, hitting one of out of six field goal attempts, coupled with a 3-for-4 day from the free throw line for a total of five points. 

G: Christian Vital vs. Kevin Johnson

Vital has proven he can step up into a starting role, bringing defensive energy as well as solid offense. His 5-for-9 night from the floor, including two 3-pointers, gave him 12 points against Houston last night. Johnson had a poor shooting night, going just 2-for-8 overall, including 1-for-5 from three, to notch only seven points.
 

Talking Points

Tournament Trivia: Dating back to last year’s tournament, UConn has now won six tournament games in a row, an overall 10-2 record in AAC tournament play. In every year since the start of the American Athletic Conference, UConn has faced Cincinnati, and in every instance, they have won. Cincy owns just a 3-4 record all-time at the XL Center.

Teamwork Makes The Dream Work: In last night’s contest against Houston, four Huskies scored in double digits—Adams led the way with 23, Purvis had 18 and freshmen Vance Jackson and Vital both had 12, not to mention that Brimah’s impact was immeasurable in the minutes he played. After relying on a career night from Purvis to push UConn past USF, the scoring distribution is a big change in a short window of time.

March 11, 2016: One year ago to this day, Adams took the famous “Jalen Shot” from 3/4 court to send UConn and the Bearcats into overtime in the second round of the 2015-16 American tournament. Four overtimes later, UConn emerged victorious by a score of 104-97 on their way to their first American title.
 

The KO Report (Quotes from head coach Kevin Ollie)

On the quick turnaround from last night’s game to today’s: “We deserve this. All of the stuff we’ve been through this year. I mean, those guys are not tired right now. WE deserve being here on a weekend. We played hard. We played together and them guys believing over there. So, we’re going to go out and go hunting and hopefully we can do it all together and play and share the basketball.”

On the key to scoring against Cincy’s defense: “We want to keep focusing on attacking, attacking, attacking. We can’t settle for threes, we can’t settle for contested threes, especially [today]. You didn’t do that against Cincinnati. So we want to get that ball inside. That’s not just throwing it to the bigs, that’s penetrating, kicking and getting it to the rim.”

On the team’s discipline: “The thing I really prided our guys on and admire about them, they always stuck together and that’s a beautiful thing. So, we have some ups and downs. People say this about us, say that about us, but one thing: they didn’t let that affect the locker room and their bond.”


Stephanie Sheehan is the associate managing editor for The Daily Campus, covering men’s basketball. She can be reached via email at stephanie.sheehan@uconn.edu. She tweets @steph_sheehan.