7:00 PM ET, February 13, 2011
Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, Connecticut
Shots aren't falling much these days for Kemba Walker or his Connecticut teammates, and a team that a few weeks ago looked like a national title contender has lost three of four.A visit from Providence could get the 10th-ranked Huskies back on track.The Friars have won four of five against Jim Calhoun's team but have lost 13 consecutive road games, a drought UConn tries to extend Sunday in Storrs in a matchup featuring the Big East's two leading scorers.The Huskies (18-5, 6-5) only received eight votes in the AP preseason poll, but they climbed all the way to fifth on Jan. 24 on the heels of a five-game win streak.They won at Marquette one night later but have since dropped three of four while shooting 38.2 percent. Walker has especially struggled during UConn's slump, shooting 29.2 percent in the four games as the Huskies have seemed perplexed against matchup zone defenses.He missed 12 of 16 shots -- including all nine attempts from inside the arc -- in Thursday's 89-72 loss at St. John's."I don't know," Walker said when asked why the Huskies have trouble with the matchup zone. "That's why we're struggling against it. I'm sure we'll see a lot more of it."Keno Davis and Providence (14-10, 3-8) run a lot of what has given the Huskies trouble -- the coach even has an instructional DVD about the matchup zone -- but they also like to pick up opponents at full court.That hasn't led to much defensive success. The Friars allow 77.3 points per game in Big East play to rank near the bottom of the conference, and they've surrendered an 84.3 average in seven road games.That poor defense proved costly in their most recent game despite a stunning effort from Marshon Brooks. The senior guard had a career-high 43 points -- the fifth-highest scoring game in Big East history -- but Providence lost 83-81 to then-No. 13 Georgetown last Saturday.It was the Friars' 13th straight road defeat since winning at DePaul on Jan. 14, 2010."I wouldn't say it's frustrating," said Brooks, the Big East's leading scorer at 24.1 points per game -- 1.2 more than Walker. "We're such a young team, and it's tough to win in this league with one senior playing a lot of minutes. I can't feel sorry, man. Just got to keep fighting."Providence is 14-1 when it allows 78 points or fewer and 0-9 otherwise.It has held the Huskies to 76 or fewer in winning four of the past five in the series, including an 81-66 victory over then-No. 19 UConn at home on Jan. 27, 2010.Brooks had nine points off the bench in that game. He's shot 29.6 percent in three career meetings with the Huskies.Walker had 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in that loss -- his lone start against Providence. He entered the New Year leading the nation with 26.7 points per game but recently has fallen out of the top five, averaging 15.3 in the last six games on 30.5 percent shooting.It's not like UConn has needed to shoot the ball extraordinarily well to be successful. Calhoun's team is 15-1 when it shoots 38.0 percent or better.The Friars, meanwhile, need someone besides Brooks to step up from a rotation that typically only runs six deep. They're 2-5 when Brooks scores 20 points or more. When sophomore guard Vincent Council scores at least 15, they're 8-2.UConn is trying to avoid its first three-game home skid since Jan. 10-27, 2007. Providence, meanwhile, has lost 10 straight road games against top 10 opponents since beating the No. 4 Huskies in Hartford on Jan. 24, 2004.
|Avg Points Allowed||75.3||66.4|
|» Feb 13, 2011||@CONN 75, PROV 57||Recap|