Hartford, CT – The eighth-ranked Connecticut Huskies take on conference affair.
The defending national champions are 9-1 on the season thus far with the lone loss coming against UCF in the Paradise Jam. Since that loss to the Knights, UConn has strung together four straight wins, including a 77-40 rout of Holy Cross on Sunday. The victory marked the 40th consecutive non-conference home win for the Huskies, who will head to the Sunshine State to open Big East play at USF next week.
The Stags are already two games into their MAAC slate, opening up league play with wins over Niagara and Canisius thus far. The team is currently riding a four-game win streak, adding to the two league wins with victories over Old Dominion and most recently, New Hampshire (58-52).
Connecticut holds a 28-5 series advantage against Fairfield and has won 18 straight over the Stags.
Fairfield has really gotten a boost from transfer Rakim Sanders, who leads the team in both scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg). Frontcourt help comes in the form of center Ryan Olander, who is netting 11.9 ppg on a healthy .558 shooting. Derek Needham rounds out the top scoring threats for Fairfield and provides perimeter balance with 11.3 ppg. The Stags aren't an offensive juggernaut at a modest 64.4 ppg, but the team is shooting a respectable .457 from the field. Olander put up a game-high 19 points in leading the Stags to a six-point win over New Hampshire last time out. Needham poured in 15 points.
The Huskies have shown the ability to win games at either end of the floor this season. UConn is averaging 74.8 ppg this year on a healthy .488 shooting. The defense have been more impressive at times, with foes converting just 35.7 percent from the field en route to a meager 61.5 ppg. Jeremy Lamb is playing at an All-American level, shooting .482 from the field and averaging 19.0 ppg. Shabbaz Napier is a perfect complement in the backcourt, as both a scorer (14.6 ppg) and distributor (6.9 apg). Ryan Boatright has made an immediate impact, averaging 14.0 ppg since joining the lineup. Other big guys of note include fellow freshman Andre Drummond (9.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Tyler Olander (7.5 ppg, team-high 6.4 rpg). Drummond showed a glimmer of his huge potential in the win over Holy Cross, erupting for 24 points, on 11-of-12 shooting. Alex Oriakhi poured in 15 points, while Lamb struggled to provide 10 points. Napier added just three points to the cause, but doled out an impressive 13 assists against just three turnovers.