7:00 PM ET, December 8, 2011
Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, Storrs Mansfield, Connecticut
Defending national champion Connecticut being in the Top 25 isn't surprising.Seeing Harvard in it, though, certainly comes as a shock.The No. 25 Crimson's time in the AP poll could be short-lived barring an upset over the ninth-ranked Huskies on Thursday night at Gampel Pavilion.It's a considerable challenge as Harvard (8-0) plays as a Top 25 team for the first time in school history."The grand prize is we get to go down and play in Storrs," coach Tommy Amaker said. "They're one of the best programs in all of basketball. They could beat us by probably 150 points last year, but we're very excited to play them."Connecticut (7-1) did beat up on the Crimson last season as the No. 4 team in the nation, winning 81-52 in Hartford, but a victory this time might not be so easy.One of Harvard's wins this season came against the only team to beat the Huskies. The Crimson defeated Central Florida 59-49 in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament title game Nov. 26, a day after UConn lost to UCF 68-63. Additionally, the Huskies needed overtime to defeat then-No. 22 Florida State in that event after Harvard beat the Seminoles 46-41.Their results in the Bahamas are a big reason why the Crimson are the first Ivy League program to be ranked since Princeton late in 1997-98 and just the third since 1970."I think it's a significant achievement to have that happen," Amaker said. "... I'm also very pleased and flattered that we're thought of in that capacity at this point in the season."Harvard is looking to become the first Ivy school to open 9-0 since Columbia in 1969-70, and much of its success is due to defense. The Crimson rank as one the stingiest teams in the nation with just 54.4 points allowed per game.It could be tough to slow down a Connecticut team averaging 75.5 points on 48.7 percent shooting, plus it's had more time to work point guard Ryan Boatright into the mix.This will be the third game for the highly touted freshman after he served a six-game suspension for taking a plane ticket from a coach last year while playing AAU ball.Boatright had 14 points in his UConn debut against Florida State, then scored 23 to go with six assists and five rebounds off the bench in a 75-62 win over Arkansas on Saturday."Ryan was pretty special. He has those Allen Iverson kind of things where his athletic ability just allows him to do some pretty special things that you don't normally see," coach Jim Calhoun said."He does some special things. Secondly, he's not afraid. That's one of the big issues for all athletes, to never have any fear. I don't think he fears making a mistake. ... Obviously I love that kind of player."Boatright's performance Saturday helped make up for preseason All-American Jeremy Lamb being held to a season-low 14 points as he battled foul trouble. Lamb ranks among the Big East leaders with 20.3 points per game.Harvard's top scorer barely averages half that mark -- Keith Wright scores 11.4 per game. The senior forward tied a season low with five points Sunday, but the Crimson beat Seattle 80-70 behind Jonah Travis' 19 points and 10 rebounds. The freshman reserve had totaled 16 points and 13 boards in his previous seven games.Wright led Harvard with 18 points in last year's matchup against UConn and scored 10 the previous season as the Crimson gave then-No. 14 Connecticut a scare before falling 79-73.The Huskies own a 14-2 advantage in this series, and they've posted 38 consecutive home wins over non-conference opponents.The Crimson are 6-38 against current Big East teams.
|Avg Points Allowed||54.8||64.1|
|» Dec 8, 2011||@CONN 67, HARV 53||Recap|