Connecticut (15-4) at Rutgers (8-11)
GAME NOTES: Shabazz Napier and the Connecticut Huskies will face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in an American Athletic Conference test at the RAC on Saturday evening.
UConn dominated Temple en route to a 90-66 triumph last time out. The win was the fourth in the last five games for the Huskies, who have been uneven in conference play (3-3) as well as on the road (2-2). They will be back at home next Thursday to face Houston.
Rutgers has lost four of its last five games after traveling to Dallas and getting routed by SMU (70-56) on Tuesday. The Scarlet Knights are just 8-11 overall and 2-4 against the rest of the AAC, although all eight of their wins have come at home. They get a rematch with 12th-ranked Louisville, who beat them 83-76 earlier in the month, next time out.
Not surprisingly, UConn has dominated the all-time series between these two clubs, with 34 wins in 48 all-time meetings. That includes a 66-54 win in the only encounter last season.
DeAndre Daniels (31 points, 12 rebounds) and Napier (27 points, six assists) were unstoppable against Temple, as they led the Huskies to a 24-point victory. UConn limited the Owls to 38.3 percent shooting, while netting 53.4 percent itself, including 12-of-23 from beyond the arc.
Kevin Ollie's squad has been performing well on defense all season, surrendering only 65.7 ppg, while ranking 28th nationally in opponent field goal percentage (.392). The Huskies couple their staunch defense with a 74.6 ppg scoring average, which ranks fourth in the AAC. Napier (17.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 5.8 apg) has done it all for the Huskies this season, leading the team in scoring, assists and rebounds. He also tops the AAC in helpers. Daniels (13.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg) is putting together a solid season as well, although he had only three points in the game prior to the Temple contest. Ryan Boatright (12.3 ppg) is another skilled player, but he did not play against Temple as he was traveling to attend a family funeral.
Rutgers really struggled offensively against SMU, connecting on only 32.7 percent from the field to finish with fewer than 60 points for the third time in the last four games. The Scarlet Knights were outscored 21-11 off turnovers and by a 30-22 margin in the paint.
Myles Mack (16.5 ppg, 4.4 apg), the leading scorer for Rutgers, managed to tally 13 points and five assists against SMU, but he connected on only 2-of-11 shots from the floor and also had a pair of turnovers. J.J. Moore (11.2 ppg), who, along with Mack, is one of three players averaging in double figures for the Scarlet Knights, finished with a team-high 15 points in the losing effort. Kadeem Jack (13 ppg, 6.7 rpg) was held in check as he tallied only eight points on 2-of-11 shooting, to go with four rebounds. Jerome Seagears (8.9 ppg, 3.8 apg) is a decent option in the backcourt, but he only shoots 38.8 percent from the field.
Rutgers may have the upper hand on the interior in this contest, but even without Boatright, the Huskies have far too much skill in the backcourt for the Scarlet Knights to have much of a chance.
GAME NOTES: Shabazz Napier and the Connecticut Huskies will face the Rutgers
Scarlet Knights in an American Athletic Conference test at the RAC on Saturday
FACTS & STATS: Site: The RAC (8,000) -- Piscataway, New Jersey.
Television: ESPNU. Home Record: UConn 10-2, Rutgers 8-5. Away Record: UConn
2-2, Rutgers 0-5. Neutral Record: UConn 3-0, Rutgers 0-0. Conference Record:
UConn 3-3, Rutgers 2-4. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 34-14.Game Date and Time
Saturday, January 25, 7 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
Connecticut 76, Rutgers 65