Back on Track at UCONN

Jim Calhoun has turned Connecticut into an annual contender for the Big East title and a regular in the Top 25. After an uncharacteristic year in which the Huskies were neither, a five-game win streak finally has Calhoun's team back on track.

Calhoun and No. 19 Connecticut look to extend their run and solidify their spot in the rankings when they visit Syracuse on Wednesday, a matchup that features two of Division I's winningest coaches in Calhoun and the Orange's Jim Boeheim - each going for his 767th career victory.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Sryacuse -3 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 59% of bets for this game have been placed on Connecticut +3 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

Connecticut had been ranked just four times before Calhoun took over the program in 1987. Since then, the Huskies (16-5, 6-3) have been in the Top 25 249 times, including this week, when they ended a 22-week drought dating to the poll of Jan. 8, 2007.

It marked the first time Connecticut went more than a year without being ranked under Calhoun since it failed to make the Top 25 between December 1988 and January 1990.

The Huskies earned their most recent ranking with this five-game winning streak, during which they've defeated three Top 25 teams. They beat then-No. 13 Marquette 89-73 on Jan. 20, then-No. 7 Indiana 68-63 on Jan. 26 and then-No. 18 Pittsburgh 60-53 on Saturday.

"The teams we're playing are pretty good, people have to notice that," said Calhoun, whose team has pulled into fourth place in the Big East after a 6-10 finish last season - the coach's first losing conference record since 1996-97.

A.J. Price had 21 points, six rebounds and five assists Saturday, and is averaging 17.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.6 assists during the win streak.

"I'm impressed, I should be. It is impressive what we're doing right now," Price said. "We haven't played at our peak but we have shown you how good we can be and as the season goes on we'll get better and go from there."

The Huskies will put their unbeaten run on the line against the Orange (16-7, 6-4), winners of three straight after dropping four of their previous five. They shot 62.8 percent from the field in an 87-73 victory at Villanova on Saturday, giving Boeheim his 766th win.

Boeheim and Calhoun are tied for 10th on the career wins list and third on the active list after all-time leader Bob Knight resigned from Texas Tech on Monday.

Calhoun is 24-22 against Boeheim, with one of the UConn coach's losses coming while he was at Northeastern in 1977.

UConn won its first meeting with Syracuse last season, but the Orange took the next two, including a 78-65 victory in the opening round of the Big East tournament. It was the second consecutive season the Orange knocked the Huskies out of that tournament.

Syracuse will try to take advantage of a UConn team that will again be without one of its leading scorers. Sophomore guard Jerome Dyson, averaging 14.3 points, was one of two players suspended by Calhoun after they were caught with alcohol on campus.

Dyson remains on indefinite suspension, while reserve guard Doug Wiggins returned against Pittsburgh and had two points in 11 minutes.

"The last eight days have felt like 800," Calhoun said, referring to the day the original suspensions were handed out. "The kids have taken the chance to do something special. They're listening."

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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