Updated From Earlier Preview:
#11 Jerome Dyson- 14.3 PPG, 33% from three (Suspended)
#12 A.J. Price- 14.6 PPG, 6.0 APG, 38% beyond the arc
#24 Craig Austrie- 6.0 PPG, 27%, another guard
#4 Jeff Adrien- 14.7 PPG, 9.3 RPG, not a deep threat
#21 Stanley Robinson- 9.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 34% long range
#34 Hasheem Thabeet- 11.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 4.0 BPG
#3 Doug Wiggins- 6.2 PPG, 32% from three, 19.0 MPG
#14 Curtis Kelly- 2.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 8.6 MPG
#33 Gavin Edwards- 2.9 PPG, 1.7 RPG, like Kelly another 6'9" sophomore forward, 7.8 MPG
Even less deep than Notre Dame. Only went six deep against Georgia Tech until the final minutes. Just five with double figure minutes against Syracuse.
Thabeet showed more offensive ability against Georgia Tech (24 points, 15 rebounds). Losing Dyson's 14 points and 4 rebounds hurts a little, but obviously has not crippled them. Huskies have won last 7, five of which without the 6'4" sophomore guard.
On January 5th at the Joyce Center, the Irish pulled out a 73-67 win. Notre Dame led by 15 at the break, but sputtered in the second half as Luke Harangody shot 5-23 against Thabeet. It took a career-high 32 points from Kyle McAlarney and near perfect shooting night from the line for Coach Brey's team to log the victory.
Rob Kurz and Harangody both finished with 14 and 10 double-doubles. Kurz helped out a great three point shooting night by the team in making 2 of his 3 shots beyond the arc. Tory Jackson had a big number night distributing with 11 assists, but racked up 7 turnovers. Ryan Ayers was still starting at that point and neither he not Zach Hillesland logged great numbers.
For UCONN, the scoring was pretty spread out. Jeff Adrien had the sixth of his twelve double-doubles so far this year, 16 point/11 rebounds. 13 points for both Dyson and Price. Thabeet had 10 blocks, helped by few whistles from the refs. Indeed, Thabeet was the only player for Connecticut with 10 or more minutes who did not pick up a foul. No might remember this picture.
Harangody needs to have a better game because we cannot count on another career night from K-Mac. To do so, Bamm-Bamm needs to make sure he gets in on Thabeet's body on offense. Thabeet likes to create space between him and the offensive player and uses his great wingspan to block shots. This forced Harangody to try to shoot over the UCONN big man, coming up short on several jump hooks. In addition, it is important for Harangody to be able to knock down 15 foot jumpers and force Thabeet out of the key. This will open up the lane for other players and allow guys like Jackson and Hillesland to drive to the basket.
That's about it. Need a better than 37% overall shooting night for the team and must keep Thabeet from using his newfound offensive ability. If McAlarney can score 15-20 with consistent outside shooting and Harangody is able to get his points without too many missed shots over Thabeet, this could be a great road win. As it is, the Huskies are on a roll with seven straight and look like a much improved team from January. With only a 35% chance of winning according to Kenpom.com, the Irish find themselves the underdog for once, but have a good chance of pulling off the upset if they play their game.
Go Irish, beat Huskies.