Lighting It Up
Storrs,Cn - Jeff Adrien has had his way in the paint over the past few games, recording three consecutive double-doubles to help Connecticut get through a lighter portion of its Big East slate.
As the schedule toughens up, Adrien's ready to do the same.
Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sportsbook.com have made the UConn -11 point spread favorites for Tuesday’s game against the Villanova. Current College Basketball Public Betting Information shows that 57% of more than 197 bets for this game have been placed on the UConn -11.
Minutes after the third-ranked Huskies defeated their latest opponent, Adrien was looking ahead to his team's two showdowns this week, beginning on Wednesday night in Hartford against No. 20 Villanova.
UConn lost its conference opener to Georgetown on Dec. 29, but has since reeled off five straight wins. The Huskies (16-1, 5-1) won three in a row on the road from Jan. 6-15 before returning home on Sunday to face woeful Seton Hall, and they made sure early that the Pirates wouldn't have a chance.
A.J. Price scored 14 of his 23 points in the first half as UConn jumped out to a 16-point lead, and cruised to a 76-61 victory behind the dominant inside duo of Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet.
Thabeet had 15 points and 17 rebounds while Adrien chipped in 13 and 12.
Adrien immediately seemed ready to move on and prepare for a tough week ahead. UConn has lost its last two games to Villanova (14-3, 2-2), and then on Saturday will try to end No. 19 Notre Dame's 45-game home winning streak.
"It's an opportunity to get payback for Villanova," said Adrien, whose 9.4 rebounds per game rank just behind Thabeet's 10.5. "You know they beat us the last two years, and we're excited for it," adding that "It's going to feel good to break (Notre Dame's) home winning streak."
Before the Huskies can worry about the Irish, they'll have to deal with the Wildcats, who have won the last two meetings with UConn by six total points.
One reason for Villanova's 67-65 win in Philadelphia on Feb. 23 was poor shooting by Price, whose 9-for-16 effort against Seton Hall was his best of the season.
Price wasn't nearly as accurate against the Wildcats last season though, going 6-for-22 and committing three turnovers.
"They are a physical team. That's the nature of their program," said Price, who's shooting a team-best 43.0 percent from 3-point range but just 35.6 percent from inside the arc. "They play physical defense, so you have to understand you can't be soft or lackadaisical in anything you do on offense."
Villanova allows 60.6 points per game to rank third in the Big East - UConn is fifth at 61.4 - but in its latest game, some hot shooting paved the way for a blowout win.
The Wildcats hit a season-high 58.8 percent of their shots on Sunday against St. John's, and Dante Cunningham's 17 points led four players in double figures in a 76-57 victory.
"I think we played hard and competed most of the game,'' coach Jay Wright said. "At times, we were trying to be too perfect.''
Cunningham (7.4 rpg) and sophomore forward Antonio Pena (6.4) will have their hands full inside against Adrien and Thabeet. UConn's interior duo combined for 30 points and 19 rebounds against Villanova last season, while Cunningham and Pena totaled 19 and 10.
But while Price struggled from the floor, the Wildcats' backcourt tandem came up big. Scottie Reynolds and Corey Stokes each hit four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points.
UConn has won eight of its last nine against ranked opponents, and with a win against Villanova can become the first team in the country to record five wins over Top 25 teams this season.
Posted: 1/21/09 1:30AM ET