Coppin State (4-3) at (4) Connecticut (8-0)
Monday, December 20th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: XL Center (16,294) -- Hartford, Connecticut. Television: None. Home Record: Coppin State 4-0, Connecticut 5-0. Away Record: Coppin State 0-3, Connecticut 0-0. Neutral Record: Coppin State 0-0, Connecticut 3-0. Conference Record: Coppin State 0-1, Connecticut 0-0. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 3-0.
GAME NOTES: The Connecticut Huskies have far exceeded expectations thus far, and they are obviously favored once again in tonight's non-conference matchup with the Coppin State Eagles.
A MEAC member, Coppin State has compiled a 4-3 overall record to date, including an 0-1 mark against league opponents. The Eagles have won four of their last five games after an 0-2 start, and the last two outings have resulted in wins. The club has been idle since December 11th when it posted a 79-63 decision over West Virginia Tech, but the level of competition obviously increases significantly this evening.
As for UConn, it hasn't played since December 8th when it defeated Fairleigh Dickinson by a 78-54 final. Jim Calhoun's Huskies are a perfect 8-0, and with wins over the likes of Michigan State and Kentucky, they have certainly earned the high national ranking. Big East play begins next week for UConn with a road game against Pittsburgh, and many challenges await over the next three months.
Connecticut has won all three of its previous meetings with Coppin State, and the smallest margin of victory was 22 points.
The go-to guy at the offensive end of the court for Coppin State has been Michael Harper, as he is netting 16.1 ppg through seven outings. The only other double-digit scorer for the Eagles is Tony Gallo, who checks in with 11.9 ppg despite his 35.4 percent shooting from the field. Coppin State is generating 68.6 ppg on 41.3 percent field goal efficiency, and the club is permitting 69.9 ppg to opponents. Gallo and Antonio Williams both scored 16 points in the victory over West Virginia Tech last time out, and Harper added 14 points in that affair. The Eagles connected on 55.6 percent of their field goal attempts in the second half to put the game away, and they finished with a 41-33 rebounding advantage. Defensively, they held their overmatched opponents to 34.5 percent shooting from the floor.
Judging by what he has done through the first eight games of this season, it appears that UConn guard Kemba Walker will challenge for national player of the year honors. Walker has led his team in scoring in every contest to date and is netting 28.1 ppg on 53.3 percent shooting from the floor. An accurate shooter from both three-point range and from the foul line, Walker has also posted other team highs of 32 assists and 18 steals while placing second on the roster with 5.4 rpg. Alex Oriakhi is the only other double-digit scorer for the squad with 11.4 ppg on 56.3 percent field goal efficiency, and he is ripping down 10.4 rpg to complement his 22 blocked shots. The Huskies are posting 79.9 ppg while holding does to 63.5 ppg on 37.1 percent shooting. Walker scored 21 points in the team's most recent win over Fairleigh Dickinson, and while UConn can't be happy about its 37.9 percent overall shooting in the tilt, it can take pride in the fact that is held FDU to 32.8 percent field goal efficiency. A 48-38 rebounding advantage helped the cause, as did an 18-11 edge in points from the foul line.
With Oriakhi dominating the paint and Walker dominating every other section of the court, UConn has been impossible to beat thus far. Expect the Huskies to push their record to 9-0 tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 79, Coppin State 52
12/20 10:38:14 ET