Trying to Recover
Marquette has hit the road twice in Big East play and twice it's been beaten convincingly. It hopes to change that trend against a team that would gladly settle for any conference win it can get.
The No. 13 Golden Eagles (13-3, 3-2) look to rebound from their most lopsided loss since joining the Big East on Sunday when they visit Connecticut at Gampel Pavilion.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made UCONN -2 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 52% of bets for this game have been placed on UCONN -2 (View College Basketball bet percentages).
The Huskies (11-5, 2-3) have dropped seven of their past nine in conference play dating back to Feb. 25.
Marquette opened its league road schedule with a 79-64 loss at West Virginia on Jan. 6 and, after a pair of home wins, suffered a 71-51 defeat at Louisville on Thursday.
It was the fewest points the Golden Eagles have scored in a Big East game since joining the conference in 2005. Their largest margin of defeat as a Big East member had been a 104-85 loss at West Virginia on Jan. 14, 2006.
They shot 30.4 percent from the field, their lowest shooting percentage in a loss since March 2005, and went 0-for-12 from beyond the arc, snapping a streak of 228 straight games with at least one 3-pointer.
"You can't settle for jump shots against good defense," said Marquette coach Tom Crean. "We played right into their hands. We wanted to attack their defense and get open shots or kick it for open 3s. We didn't attack well."
The Golden Eagles have lost five of their last six conference road games dating back to a Feb. 10 loss at Georgetown, but they haven't been the only Big East team to struggle away from home. Road squads are 9-35 in league play in 2007-08.
Marquette doesn't feature a scorer in the league's top 15, but it has three among the top 30. Dominic James leads the team with 14.1 points per game, followed by fellow junior Jerel McNeal's 13.7 and sophomore Lazar Hayward's 12.7.
But James, a preseason all-conference selection, is coming off a three-point, one-assist effort against Louisville, the lowest-scoring game of his career. McNeal, last season's Big East defensive player of the year, is averaging 16.0 points over his last three games, but he's also had 14 turnovers, including seven against the Cardinals.
Marquette and UConn have met twice previously, with the Huskies boasting a national ranking each time. But the Golden Eagles won both games, beating No. 24 UConn 73-69 in Storrs on Jan. 10, 2007, and knocking off the second-ranked Huskies 94-79 in Milwaukee on Jan. 3, 2006.
McNeal has averaged 19.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in Marquette's two wins.
UConn didn't play in the postseason in 2006-07 after finishing 6-10 in the Big East, and is coming off back-to-back conference losses.
The Huskies' main problem has been their defense. They've given up 74.6 points per game in conference play - only Seton Hall has allowed a higher average in the 16-team Big East.
UConn yielded an average of just 65.6 points last season despite finishing with its worst conference record since 1987-88.
The Huskies struggled again defensively in their latest game, allowing 45 points in the second half in a 77-65 home loss to Providence on Thursday.
"It's beyond surprising and disappointing," said Huskies coach Jim Calhoun, who returned to the sidelines after missing a game due to illness. "It's three, four steps beyond whatever I could possibly imagine."
Like Marquette, UConn features a balanced offense with five scorers averaging in double figures. Preseason all-conference selection Jeff Adrien leads the Huskies with 14.5 points per game, followed by Jerome Dyson's 14.3 and A.J. Price's 13.9 points and league-leading 6.2 assists.
Despite their defensive issues, the Huskies, led by 7-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet's 4.0 blocks per game, average 9.4 blocked shots, tops in the nation.
UConn has led the nation in blocked shots for six consecutive seasons.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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