Storrs, CT – The fourth-ranked Connecticut Huskies 11 national championship last week, 0 on the young season when they play host to the Wagner Seahawks tonight at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs.
Wagner lifted the lid on its own season with a 73-57 win at Princeton on Saturday, snapping the Tigers' 16-game home winning streak in the process. The Seahawks, who play their basketball out of the Northeast Conference, have won their last two season openers, marking the first time that has happened in more than a decade. Wagner, which is coached by Dan Hurley and welcomes all five starters back from last year's club that went 13-17, comes into this contest seeking just its third win ever against a team that was once, or is currently a member of the Big East Conference -- Miami in 1993-94 and Rutgers in 1995-96.
Connecticut has not lost a regular season game in Storrs in either November or December since December 5, 1973, a streak that continued with its 70-57 triumph over Columbia on Friday and now spans 100 games. The Huskies have never lost a game in Gampel Pavilion in Nov/Dec, going 55-0 since the arena opened in 1990. The win improved UConn to 22-4 in season openers under head coach Jim Calhoun, who wasn't happy with his team's overall effort despite the favorable outcome. Fortunately for Calhoun and the UConn faithful, the team doesn't figure to be seriously tested until possibly the Paradise Jam next week, or versus Arkansas in Hartford on December 3.
UConn has never lost to Wagner in four previous meetings, the most recent of which took place in 2002 with the Huskies taking a 97-85 decision in Storrs.
Tyler Murray scored 15 points, and Josh Thompson scored 12 of his 14 in the second half to help lead Wagner past Princeton on Saturday night. The Seahawks, who had three players in all reach double figures, broke open a tight game by going on a 26-6 run in the final frame. Wagner was outshot (.465 to .459) and outrebounded (29-20), but the Tigers committed an unsightly 28 turnovers, resulting in 27 points for the Seahawks. Wagner had a terrible night at the free-throw line (12-of-23), while committing 15 turnovers and hitting only five three-pointers -- figures that simply need to improve if the team has aspirations of pulling off the upset tonight.
All-America candidate Jeremy Lamb poured in a career-high 30 points, and Shabazz Napier added 21 of his own to help lead Connecticut to its season- opening win over Columbia. As a team, the Huskies shot an even 50 percent from the field, dropping 8-of-17 (.471) three-point tries along the way. However, it was mostly due to Lamb and Shabazz, who connected on 18-of-29 field goal attempts -- the other three starters going 7-of-19. Despite shooting a woeful 28.8 percent from the floor, the Lions stayed in the game thanks to 41 rebounds and the fact that UConn committed 15 turnovers -- again, reasons Calhoun believes his team has a ton of work to do between now and the start of Big East Conference play.