Knoxville, TN – The 13th-ranked Connecticut Huskies take a conference matchup at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.
The defending national champions have hit a rough patch in their schedule, with losses in three of the their last five games. On Wednesday, the Huskies dropped their third league match of the year, falling at home to Cincinnati, 70-67.
The Volunteers certainly know the feelings associated with a loss, as they have done a lot more of that than in recent years. Cuonzo Martin's first season at the helm of Tennessee hasn't exactly gone according to plan, with the team sitting at just 8-10 on the year. The Vols enter this contest with a three-game losing streak in tow, including Wednesday's heart-wrenching 57-53 overtime loss to Georgia.
This is just the third meeting between these two teams. Each team has won one game, with Tennessee claiming a win in the 2000 NCAA Tournament. UConn was able to knot things up with a 72-61 victory last season.
Connecticut is at its best when its dynamic backcourt tandem of Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier are into the flow of the game. Lamb leads the team and is one of the top scorers in the Big East this season, averaging 17.7 ppg. Napier can also fill up the basket at 14.6 ppg, but is also the team's top distributor (6.3 apg), as well as leading the way in steals (32). Youngsters like Ryan Boatright (10.2 ppg) and Andre Drummond (9.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg) have made their marks early on as well, although Boatright hasn't played in the last two games while the NCAA looks into his eligibility. Napier had the hot hand against Cincinnati this week, but his 27 points, five rebounds and seven assists didn't land the Huskies in the win column. Lamb added 14 points and grabbed eight boards, while Niels Giffey came off the bench to tally 10 points and six rebounds.
Scoring points when needed has not been easy for Tennessee this season, as evidenced by the Vols' 53 total points in an overtime loss at Georgia this week. Sophomore guard Trae Golden led the team with 16 points. Junior forward Jeronne Maymon and freshman forward Jarnell Stokes chipped in with 12 and 11 points, respectively. The team managed to shoot a modest 40 percent from the floor and really hurt itself with a whopping 20 turnovers. The Volunteers come into this contest averaging 71.7 ppg and are doing so on a decent .456 shooting. Golden leads the way with 14.3 ppg. Maymon has been solid down low, converting 56.3 percent from the floor and putting up 11.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Stokes (10.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg) has played in just two games, but has already shown himself to be an asset, converting an efficient 64.3 percent of his shots.