In game number three of a five-game homestand, the UConn men’s basketball team returns to Gampel Pavilion on Tuesday after a pair of victories at the XL Center. The Huskies welcome UMass Lowell, looking to win their third straight since falling to Iowa at Madison Square Garden.
It’s been back-to-back dominant wins for UConn (5-1), and it’s safe to say they’ve firmly regained their confidence after the lone loss to the Hawkeyes. After routing Cornell last Tuesday, the Huskies won by an even larger margin on Saturday, grabbing a 91-66 win over UNH.
While those are two matchups that UConn certainly expects to win, it’s been awhile since the team has strung together consecutive blowouts. Last season, the Huskies had just one 20-point victory all year—and seven 20-point losses.
“We don’t even think about last year anymore,” junior guard Christian Vital said after Saturday’s win. “We just know what we’re supposed to do and that we’re supposed to beat teams like this by a good amount and have a game where everyone can get in and have fun.”
UMass Lowell (4-4) is another opponent which the Huskies expect to beat, but don’t be surprised if the River Hawks provide a challenge on Tuesday. Lowell defeated UConn head coach Dan Hurley’s former team, Wagner, in overtime earlier in the season, though it’s coming off a road defeat at Duquesne on Sunday.
Balanced offenses will be featured on both sides of the ball, as both teams enter with four players each in double-digit scoring averages. For the Huskies, Jalen Adams (18.3), Alterique Gilbert (12.8), Tarin Smith (11.8) and Vital (11.2) all come in with double figures. Sophomore guard Obadiah Noel leads the way for the River Hawks at 15.6 per game, with three more players averaging over 13 a night.
After dominating the paint against an undersized UNH squad, Lowell is another guard-oriented team against which the UConn bigs should have some success. Christian Lutete, a 6’5 guard, leads the River Hawks with 9.0 rebounds a game.
Sophomore Tyler Polley and Josh Carlton have been Hurley’s most effective forwards this season, and both are fresh off superb outings on Saturday. Carlton led the team with 17 points, and Polley tied a career-high with 12, 11 of which came in the first half. As usual, UConn’s guards have shown the ability to play big as well, as Vital pulled down 10 rebounds and leads the team at 5.5 per game.
UConn and UMass Lowell have met only once before back in 2015, and the Huskies took that one by a score of 88-79. Hurley has never lost to an American East opponent, a perfect 9-0 during his time at Wagner and Rhode Island.
Looming on Sunday is a huge test against Arizona at the XL Center. It’ll be easy for the Huskies to look ahead to that game, but first they’ll have to take care of business against Lowell. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion.