Marquette is an impressive 21-5 on the year, and the team's 10-3 league ledger has it tied with Notre Dame for second place in the Big East standings, just two games back of first-place Syracuse. The Golden Eagles have won their last two games, the most recent being a 95-78 home triumph over Cincinnati last Saturday, and they have claimed victory in nine of their last 10 outings overall. MU is just 4-4 in true road games this season, but three of those wins have come in its last four tilts outside of Milwaukee.
Connecticut brings a 16-9 overall record and 6-7 conference mark into this contest, and the Huskies are fresh off an 80-54 win over DePaul on Wednesday. The victory put the brakes on the team's recent two-game slide, and was only its second in the last eight games overall. UConn will be playing once again without legendary coach Jim Calhoun, as he continues to deal with the back ailment that has been bothering him since last summer.
This bout marks just the eighth all-time meeting between these two teams on the hardwood, with Marquette clinging to a 4-3 series advantage. The Golden Eagles are 2-0 at XL Center, and 3-1 on the road against UConn.
Marquette has the good fortune of having two of the Big East's top-10 scorers in the form of guard Darius Johnson-Odom (18.4 ppg) and forward Jae Crowder (16.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg). As a result of their consistent contributions this season, the Golden Eagles are averaging 76.7 ppg on the strength of their 46.1 percent overall shooting effort. Defensively, the team is allowing 65.6 ppg, as foes are hitting only 40.6 percent of their total shots while committing nearly 17 turnovers per contest. Johnson-Odom and Crowder scored 23 points apiece in the recent win over Cincinnati, while Jamil Wilson and Vander Blue tallied 15 and 14 points, respectively. As a team. MU made good on 56.7 percent of its field goal attempts, and went 20-of-24 at the free-throw line, while limiting the Bearcats to 43.3 percent field goal efficiency, which included a 3-of-13 effort from three-point range. One of the glaring negatives from the contest was the fact that Cincy won the rebounding battle, 42-29, grabbing 21 offensive boards and turning them into 18 second-chance points.
UConn has it owns star in guard Jeremy Lamb, as he enters this bout ranked fifth in the conference in scoring with 17.2 ppg. A 47.5 percent shooter who is also among the team leaders in rebounds (4.6 rpg) and steals (36), Lamb has a knack for bringing out the best in his teammates, and three others are currently netting double digits as well. Shabazz Napier checks in at 13.0 ppg, Ryan Boatright turns in 10.4 ppg and Andre Drummound adds 10.1 ppg while spearheading the team's effort on the glass with 7.6 rpg -- the latter two being particularly impressive considering they are rookies. The last time UConn had a pair of freshman finish the year in double-figure scoring was 1993-94 (Ray Allen and Doron Sheffer). In the recent win over DePaul, Lamb hit for 18 points and Drummond finished with 15 points and nine boards. Both Napier (14 points, 11 assists) and Alex Oriakhi (14 points, 10 rebounds) logged double-doubles, and the team as a whole shot 47.8 percent from the field, while holding the Blue Demons to just 38.6 percent. The Huskies dominated the glass, outrebounding the visitors, 50-27.