How to Watch
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Stream: FOX Sports Go
Location: CHI Health Center
Records: UConn 7-2 (4-2) | Creighton 10-4 (6-3)
Spread: Creighton -7
ATS Records: UConn (7-2) | Creighton (6-8)
KenPom Rankings: UConn – 29 | Creighton – 15
In their last meeting, Creighton narrowly escaped Storrs with a victory against the Huskies. James Bouknight dropped 40 points, but the rest of the team struggled offensively. In this matchup, the Huskies will be without their star and leading scorer, Bouknight. Who still step up in his continued absence and can UConn hit clutch free throws?
Creighton is coming off back-to-back losses. Butler outlasted Creighton, although Marcus Zegarowski did not play in that game. Zegarowski made his return in Creighton’s most recent home game against Providence, but the team looked off for most of the game. Nate Watson dominated inside for Providence and Damien Jefferson seemed to be the only player on Creighton playing with confidence, but it was not enough to will his team to victory. Creighton’s leading scorer, Denzel Mahoney (15.1 PPG), could not buy a bucket against Providence. I expect Creighton will come out focused looking to stop their two-game skid. The Huskies will have to play hard-nosed defense; they can’t expect Creighton to have another off night.
As for UConn, the Huskies are coming off a “brutal” loss to St. John’s. UConn was up 14 at one point, before ultimately falling 74-70 in a home loss to the Red Storm. Suffice to say, both UConn and Creighton should show up to this game looking to avenge their losses.
Who will come out more prepared and more aggressive? The Huskies have had since Monday night to continue their prep without Bouknight, will that be enough? Can Cole capitalize on his hot first-half start against St. John’s? Will Polley have a bounce back performance? And will UConn work the ball inside to their bigs, a similar strategy used by Providence that proved highly effective against Creighton?
Adama Sanogo was having what appeared to be his coming out party against a smaller St. John’s team. However, Sanogo was pulled due to defensive mismatches and didn’t play for the last 12+ minutes of action as the UConn lead faded away. I’m going to sidebar here for a second to discuss this decision that many fans loudly disagreed with. Was it the right call? Maybe not, but hindsight is 20/20 as they say. We need to remember that Hurley is still a young coach and new to the Big East. With each meeting and scout the Huskies will become more and more familiar with their opponent’s tendencies. It’s important to remember that Mike Anderson is a great, yet underrated and underappreciated coach. This is not really up for debate. You don’t coach for 18 seasons and never having a losing record without being a great coach. Mike Anderson and St. John’s will steal more games this season, welcome back to the Big East where any team can win on any given night. Did Hurley get outcoached when Anderson went small and Hurley pulled Sanogo, playing right into Anderson’s hand? Yes. Is that okay? Yes. Because Hurley is still learning. Jim Calhoun probably made coaching mistakes too, but coaches can learn from these mistakes and improve. I don’t think we will see Hurley let another coach dictate his lineup and rotations again. But I digress.
I hope I’m wrong, but I am having a hard time seeing Creighton losing 3 consecutive games, and 2 in a row at home. I suspect Creighton will come out on fire and UConn will have to use their defense to keep things close. If the Huskies anchor down on defense and can hang close all game, they might be able to steal one. Expect a good old-fashion Big East rock fight. Made foul shots and staunch team defense are the keys to success for the Huskies.