The UConn men’s basketball team will look to end a four-game slide Saturday afternoon as they return home to face American Athletic Conference opponent East Carolina at the XL Center in Hartford.
The Huskies (7-7, 0-2 The American) lost to both Arizona and Auburn on a two-game road trip before the New Year, and they have opened conference play with losses to Wichita State and Tulsa.
Their last time out was particularly painful, as UConn wasted a great performance from Jalen Adams (29 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists) in a 90-88 double overtime loss to the Golden Hurricane at the Reynolds Center, where Kevin Ollie has never won.
Adams’ effort buoyed an improved offensive effort, as the Huskies racked up 18 assists after entering with just 9.3 assists per game. However, the perimeter defense was repeatedly torched to the tune of a program-worst 17 3-pointers allowed.
Tulsa’s Corey Henderson Jr. was the primary culprit, dropping 30 points on 8-for-15 shooting from deep, including a game-tying heave from the corner at the end of regulation.
Adams continues to shine – at 19.0 points per game, he leads the American – but without much help besides Terry Larrier (15.0 points) and Christian Vital (13.9 points), the Huskies have been a predictable offensive bunch. The defensive side of the ball, typically an unquestioned strength of Ollie’s teams, has been inconsistent.
East Carolina (7-7, 1-2 The American) also lost its first two conference games, including a 79-53 loss to Tulsa on Dec. 28. The Pirates won their last time out, beating USF 67-65 on the road Wednesday night.
B.J. Tyson leads the Pirates with 15.4 points per game on 44 percent shooting, including a 34 percent mark from 3-point range.
Isaac Fleming (13.2 points) and Kentrell Barkley (12.3 points) also average double digits in scoring. Jabari Craig is the Pirates’ leading rebounder at 7.1 boards per game.
UConn is 4-1 against East Carolina since the two teams joined the American, although the Pirates won the previous meeting last March at Minges Coliseum. Since-graduated guard Caleb White led ECU with 28 points in that win, with Barkley adding 18.
UConn and East Carolina will tip-off Saturday at 12 p.m. at the XL Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPNEWS.