Men’s Basketball: Huskies open AAC Championship against USF

UConn men's basektball loses to University of Cincinnati on Senior day, Sunday March 5th at the Gampel Pavilion with final score of 46-67. (Zhelun Lang/ The Daily Campus)

Time and Place: 8 p.m. Thursday at the XL Center in Hartford

Where to Watch: ESPNews, can be streamed online using WatchESPN

Last Meeting: UConn won 97-51, on Jan. 8 at Gampel Pavilion

UConn’s Last Time Out: 67-47 loss vs. Cincinnati Sunday

USF’s Last Time Out: 72-60 loss vs. Temple Sunday

Projected Starting Lineups: UConn (14-16, 9-9 The American) vs. USF (7-22, 1-17 The American)

G: Jalen Adams vs. Geno Thorpe

Adams played with an injury when the Huskies were routed by Cincinnati, and ended up finishing with just four points and four assists while turning the ball over four times. He’s a game-time decision to play Thursday. Thorpe is the only Bull in double digits for scoring, averaging 14.8 points per game.

G: Christian Vital vs. Michael Bibby

Assuming Adams plays, and Vance Jackson does not pass through the concussion protocol in time for Thursday’s game (he hasn’t been ruled out yet), Vital will likely start again at the guard position. Starting against Cincinnati, he went just 1-for-8 from the field.

F: Rodney Purvis vs. Malik Fitts

Purvis is one of three seniors slated to start Thursday, seeking to stave off the end of their UConn careers for a few more games. Purvis is 13th in the American in scoring, averaging 13.3 points per game. He scored 23 in the last meeting between UConn and USF.

F: Kentan Facey vs. Luis Santos

Facey had an atrocious shooting night against Cincinnati (1-for-9), but still managed to lead the team with 10 rebounds. Santos is averaging 10 points and seven rebounds over the past two games.

C: Amida Brimah vs. Ruben Guerrero

Brimah is second in the American with 2.7 blocks per game. Guerrero finished with 10 or more rebounds just four times this season.

Talking Points

Tournament Time: Thursday’s game is the Huskies’ first in the 2017 American Athletic Conference Championship, and if they hope to bring home the title, they’ll need to win four games in four days. This is the fourth year of the tournament, and UConn has played in the title game in the previous three.

Rout Redux?: The last meeting between these two teams represented UConn’s biggest blowout of the year, as the Huskies won 97-51 at Gampel Pavilion. During that game, UConn set a program record for 3-point field goals in a game by hitting 16-of-24 from deep. Five Huskies finished in double digits.

Health Questions: The statuses of both Adams and Jackson for Thursday’s game remain up in the air after Wednesday’s practice. Neither practiced, but neither have been ruled out for the game. Adams said he will be mentally ready to play, but the game-time decision remains up to the medical staff. Jackson is still in the concussion protocol, but has a chance to be ready to play.

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

On continuing to deal with injury absences: “I haven’t made no excuses. Not worrying about excuses, we gon’ play with the guys that we got, we gon’ play hard and try to do the things that UConn is known to do, and that’s to play tough defense, run, establish the post, and hopefully we can start making some shots these next couple games.”

On the win over USF in February: “That second game at Gampel, we really started off well. I want us to have that same sense of urgency, coming out here playing well, and starting off the game with a positive impact for us on the offensive and defensive end.”

On Adams and Jackson receiving American honors: “It’s awesome. It shows that the coaches really game-planned against Jalen, and he stepped up to the plate. He gotta work, and continue to work, and I think he knows his shortcomings a little bit. And he gotta continue to do that, especially the great teams that we face in our conference…I’m really proud of Vance, and I thought Christian had a very, very good rookie season too.”


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.