New Hampshire (4-1) at (7) Connecticut (5-0)
Tuesday, November 30th, 7:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Harry A. Gampel Pavilion (10,027) -- Storrs, Connecticut. Television: MASN. Home Record: New Hampshire 3-0, UConn 2-0. Away Record: New Hampshire 1-1, UConn 0-0. Neutral Record: New Hampshire 0-0, UConn 3-0. Conference Record: New Hampshire 0-0, UConn 0-0. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 89-25.
GAME NOTES: The seventh-ranked Connecticut Huskies have been tremendously impressive so far this season, and they welcome the New Hampshire Wildcats to Gampel Pavilion this evening for a non-conference bout.
New Hampshire, a member of the America East Conference, has played five games so far this season, and four of those have resulted in victories. The club is 4-1 for the first time since 2004-05, sparking optimism among the fans. On Saturday, the team showed a great deal of toughness to hold off Brown by a 70-66 final. Obviously, tonight's game marks a major leap in competition level.
As for Connecticut, it surprised everyone by winning the Maui Invitational, as Jim Calhoun's squad had to knock off then-second-ranked Michigan State in the semifinal before an 84-67 romp over previously-unbeaten Kentucky in Wednesday's title game. The Huskies are 5-0 overall, and while they weren't expected to challenge for the Big East Conference title this season, doubters have been forced to rethink their outlook.
UConn owns a commanding 89-25 series advantage over New Hampshire, which includes six straight wins over the Wildcats.
There are four players averaging double figures in scoring for New Hampshire, and Alvin Abreu leads the pack with 14.0 ppg despite his 36.8 percent shooting from the floor. Unfortunately Abreu has only played in two of the club's five outings and didn't participate in the win over Brown. Tyrone Conley checks in with 13.4 ppg, but his 34.8 percent shooting is even worse. Ferg Myrick (12.8 ppg) and Dan Diliegro (11.8 ppg) rounds out the foursome, and Diliegro provides 9.0 rpg. In the four-point win over Brown, Diliegro scored 23 points on the strength of an 8-of-10 shooting effort from the field, and he pulled down 12 rebounds as well. Conley tallied 19 points in that affair, and he added five steals. Ferg Myrick scored 12 points for the Wildcats, who scored 21 points from the foul line and forced 17 turnovers.
No player in college basketball has been as impressive as UConn guard Kemba Walker thus far. Through the five games that he has played, Walker is pouring in 30.0 ppg on 52.7 percent shooting form the floor. He has made good on 39- of-44 free throws and has dished out 18 assists to go along with 17 steals. For as much has he has had the ball in his hands, Walker has committed only 10 turnovers, an impressive stat as well. Alex Oriakhi has obviously been overshadowed by Walker's brilliance, but the big man is netting 13.4 ppg to go along with 12.0 rpg 2.4 bpg. Oriakhi is a 61.4 percent shooter form the floor, far better than his 50 percent accuracy from the foul line. In the 17-point romp over Kentucky last time out, Walker tallied 29 points and six assists in 38 minutes of action. Oriakhi netted 18 points while ripping down 11 rebounds, and Shabazz Napier tallied 12 points off the bench. Neils Griffey had 14 points in that affair for UConn, which held the Wildcats to 36.7 percent shooting.
The Walker show will continue this evening, as he will put forth another tremendous performance against New Hampshire. With a dominant guard and a big- time frontcourt player in Oriakhi, UConn is for real.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 88, New Hampshire 63
11/30 10:34:43 ET