Coppin State (1-2) at (4) Connecticut (3-0)
Sunday, November 20th, 1:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: XL Center (16,294) -- Hartford, Connecticut. Television: SNY. Home Record: Coppin State 1-0, Connecticut 3-0. Away Record: Coppin State 0-2, Connecticut 0-0. Neutral Record: Coppin State 0-0, Connecticut 0-0. Conference Record: Coppin State 0-0, Connecticut 0-0. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: The fourth-ranked Connecticut Huskies have a chance to add another non-conference victory to their ledger when they play host to the Coppin State Eagles this afternoon in Hartford.
Coppin State enters with a 1-2 record, as it has dropped two straight decisions since winning its season opener. The Eagles were most recently in action on Friday when they lost a 92-65 decision at Oklahoma. Members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, the Eagles have certainly scheduled their fair share of tough non-league opponents, and Purdue is next up on the slate.
Defending national champ UConn lost its best player from the 2010-11 team, but the club has won its first three games of 2011-12 by double figures. As expected, the Huskies cruised past Maine on Thursday in an 80-60 final, extending the longest winning streak in Division I to 14 games. It is certainly worth noting that another streak has been extended, as the Huskies have now captured 36 consecutive non-conference wins.
UConn has won all four of its previous meetings with Coppin State, including a 76-64 decision last season.
Tony Gallo has been outstanding for Coppin State so far this season, as he has led the team in scoring in all three games. Gallo is averaging 20.7 ppg, but the fact that he is shooting 39.6 percent from the field suggests that he still has plenty of room for improvement. The only other double-digit scorer in the mix is Michael Harper with 10.7 ppg for the Eagles, who are generating 71.0 ppg while surrendering 78.3 ppg to foes. In the 27-point loss to Oklahoma last time out, Gallo managed to net 22 points, but he shot just 7-of-18 from the floor and misfired on eight of his 10 three-point attempts. Logan Wiens netted 13 points for Coppin State, which shot just 36.4 percent as a team and struggled from the foul line as well. Clearly, however, the most disturbing stat from the contest was a 61-27 rebounding disadvantage, as the Sooners had more offensive rebounds than the Eagles had total boards.
With Kemba Walker gone, it was assumed that Jeremy Lamb would fill the void as the Huskies' go-to scorer. Through three games, it certainly appears that Lamb is up to the challenge, as he is pouring in 22 ppg. Shabazz Napier has been extremely productive at the offensive end as well, posting 16.7 ppg for coach Jim Calhoun. UConn is generating 76.0 ppg while holding foes to 61.0 ppg on 34.2 percent field goal efficiency. Rebounding has been the key, as the Huskies are ripping down 16.3 rpg more than the opposition. Five players reached double figures in scoring for the Huskies in their romp over Maine last time out, as both Lamb and Oriakhi led the charge with 16 points apiece. UConn did turn the ball over 17 times in that affair, but a 57-28 rebounding advantage was the difference. It is hard to believe that the Huskies were able to rip down 34 offensive rebounds in a 40-muinute game, but that was indeed the case.
This UConn team has a chance to do something special once again, as the Huskies may very well be the best rebounding team in all of college basketball. Lamb will only get better as the season progresses and is a legitimate Big East Conference Player of the Year candidate.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 88, Coppin State 57
11/20 10:31:41 ET