clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Will James Bouknight return as the Huskies look to bounce back against Providence?

Will Dan Hurley get the best of Ed Cooley in their first matchup as Big East foes?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 09 UConn at Butler Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How to Watch

Time: 4:00 p.m. ET

TV: FS1

Streaming: FOX Sports Go


Records: UConn 8-4 (5-4) | Providence 9-10 (5-8)

Odds

Spread: Even

ATS Records: UConn (9-3) | Providence (8-11)

Total: 132

KenPom Rankings: UConn – 34 |Providence – 78


Series History

The Providence-UConn rivalry goes back nearly 100 years; the teams first met in 1927. UConn leads the series 44-28, winning the teams last matchup in March 2013. Beyond the Providence-UConn rivalry, the head coaches are familiar foes. Dan Hurley and Ed Cooley squared off in heated battles between Providence and URI over the years. Cooley and Providence largely dominated the Hurley lead URI program, going 5-1 against them during Hurley’s tenure at URI. Hurley and the Huskies will look to get the best of Providence in this old school Big East matchup.

The Matchup

Providence has been a bit of an enigma this season. On paper and when I watch them, they seem much better than their record would indicate (at least in spurts), but they have some puzzling droughts and miscues in almost every game. Providence has the pieces and are led by a “big three” if you will. Leading the charge are dynamic guards David Duke (17.5 PPG, 6.0 RBG, 5.1 APG) and AJ Reeves (9.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG) alongside the Big East’s most dominant big man, Nate Watson (17.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG). According to Kenpom, Providence comes in with just the 8th ranked adjusted offense and defense in the Big East. Providence defends the three-point line better than anyone in the conference (holding opponents to just 29.1%) but are second to last in opposing 2-point field goal percentage. UConn can get hot from deep at times (5th in the Big East at 36.2%) but struggle close to the basket (worst in the league at 45.6%). How will they fair against the Providence defense?

I never like calling any game “must win”, much less for a team that is 8-4, but the Huskies will look to rebound from a loss against Seton Hall. James Bouknight is expected to make his long-awaited return Wednesday night and Andre Jackson saw 20 minutes of action in the loss to Seton Hall. Only Akok Akok still remains sidelined with injuries. Several players gained valuable experience during Bouknight’s absence, but we will have to see how the offense finds its rhythm with Bouknight involved. The team cannot get complacent and caught waiting and watching Bouknight work his magic. Jalen Gaffney had a breakout game against Seton Hall and he, RJ Cole, and Tyrese Martin need to stay aggressive. I would look for the Huskies to be much sharper and more aggressive on defense after an abysmal defensive effort in their previous game. Despite giving up 80 to the Pirates, UConn still comes in with the top-rated adjusted defense, per Kenpom. Can they buckle-down on defense and get a much-needed road win at Providence?

Final Prediction

Having a more complete roster in place bodes well for the Huskies to finish their season strong. Hurley said Bouknight has been itching to return to the court, and barring any unforeseen issues, I expect Bouknight to start up right where he left off. Hurley should have the Huskies ready to go in perhaps the most important game of the season. Huskies roll and put up their best collective performance of the season under pressure.