The UConn men’s basketball team will have their work cut out for them when they travel over to Kansas to take on No. 22 Wichita St. Saturday.
The two teams first met back on Dec. 30 at the start of conference play. The Huskies held on in front of a nearly sold out XL Center crowd, playing 35 tough minutes before letting the game slip from their grasp at the end, falling 72-62.
Saturday’s contest will prove to be even more of a challenge than it was over a month ago. UConn has been plagued with scoring droughts all season, and playing on the road certainly won’t help. It took the Huskies seven minutes to score against then-No.6 Cincinnati and they barely scraped by USF, ranked 318th in KenPom. Rebounding proved to be an issue against the Bulls, and will have to improve if the Huskies hope to have a chance.
“I think we just gotta be disciplined and we just gotta stick to what we do,” Jalen Adams said after the 68-65 win Wednesday night. “We know they’re a great rebounding team, so we can’t have the same effort and energy that we had [Wednesday night], or else we’re [going] to have the same result.”
In the last matchup between UConn and Wichita St., the Shockers badly out-rebounded the Huskies, 47-34, including 17 offensive rebounds. Landry Shamet led his team in scoring that game with 16 points, while three others amassed double-digit totals. Adams and Terry Larrier led UConn with 18 apiece, and Christian Vital added 17, but the rest of the team scored a combined nine points.
However, one positive UConn drew from the last matchup was their defense. They held the Shockers to 41.8 percent, seven points below their season average, and can do so again. Though the defense fell flat to close out the USF game, Adams said the reason for that was the team got “complacent” with their lead, something that most likely will not happen in Wichita.
The Shockers have been struggling in their new conference, losing back-to-back games to SMU and Houston and dropping a two-point game to Temple a week ago. They were ranked as high as No. 8, but now they sit at No. 22, though they are No. 18 in KemPom. They recovered from their loss to Temple with a 20-point beatdown of Memphis on the road, and they will certainly be looking to do the same to UConn as conference play winds down.
One thing the Huskies will need to hang in with Wichita St. is Larrier. He struggled since surgery forced him to wear a mask, but he had something of a breakout game against USF, going 6-9 from the field and 3-6 from 3-point range for 15 points.
UConn and Wichita St. will tip off on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Stephanie Sheehan is the managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com. She tweets @steph_sheehan.