Big East Busters
With the way the second-ranked Huskies (7-0) are playing lately, though, it seems doubtful the Bulls will keep that trend going Thursday at Alumni Arena.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made Connecticut -14.5 point spread favorites (NCAAB Odds) for today's game (View Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on Connecticut –14.5 (View NCAAB Bet Percentages).
Connecticut has won its games by an average of 24.1 points this season, including victories over ranked teams Miami and Wisconsin, but the Huskies haven't played on someone else's home floor. They played four games in either Storrs or Hartford and three at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
It has mattered little where Connecticut has played this season, having won every game by at least 13 points except for an 89-81 victory over La Salle on Nov. 21 in the Paradise Jam's opening round.
The Huskies are one of the nation's top scoring teams at 84.0 points per game, and they have shot 50.3 percent from the field. Connecticut has outrebounded the opposition by a 41-31 average margin and blocked 6.3 shots per game, thanks to one of the nation's best centers - 7-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet.
Thabeet is among the national leaders with averages of 4.1 blocks and 11.7 rebounds to go with his 13.6 points per game. He had four blocks and tied a career high with 17 rebounds in Monday's 79-49 win over Delaware State.
"He scares people when they get down into the paint," said Jerome Dyson, who leads UConn with 16.7 points per game and is one of five Huskies averaging in double figures.
Connecticut has so much depth it hasn't needed former starter Stanley Robinson, who will return later this month after missing a semester for personal reasons.
Gavin Edwards might lose playing time when Robinson returns, but he scored a career-high 17 points Monday in 16 minutes.
"It was nice to see Gavin get out and get some points," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said. "Gavin is going to have a fight on his hands. And the better the fight is, the better it is for UConn basketball. The deeper we can go, the more we can press and run."
A drop-off in scoring for Jeff Adrien and A.J. Price hasn't affected the team much, either. Last season, Adrien led Connecticut with 14.8 points per game and Price was next with 14.5, but those seniors are averaging 13.4 and 8.5 points this season, respectively.
The Connecticut game marks the fourth straight year Buffalo (3-2) has hosted a Big East team. The Bulls beat South Florida 76-69 last season, they had a 10-point lead in the second half against then-No. 2 Pitt the previous season only to lose 70-67, and they knocked off Rutgers 62-53 in 2005-06.
Buffalo is 19-4 in non-conference home games in the last five seasons and only one of those losses was by more than four points - and that game went to overtime.
The Bulls did lose 65-61 to Niagara in its home opener Nov. 25, but rebounded Saturday by rallying for an 83-73 win over Temple at Alumni Arena.
"We still have some areas we need to clean up, but we made some strides today," said Bulls coach Reggie Witherspoon, whose team trailed the Owls by 12 in the second half.
Calvin Betts scored a career-high 18 points to increase his season average to 10.0 per game, and he tops the team with 8.4 rebounds per contest. Rodney Pierce leads Buffalo with 17.0 points per game and Greg Gamble has averaged 14.0.
Connecticut has won six of the seven meetings with Buffalo, including an 82-57 win last season in Storrs. The Huskies haven't played at Buffalo since Dec. 27, 1951.
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