On Sunday, February 28th, the Houston Cougars travel to Storrs, Connecticut to take on the UConn Huskies. The game will begin at 12:00 PM and be televised on CBS Sports Network.
The Cougars go into this matchup fairly hot, having won seven of their last nine, and most recently a 27-point road victory over UCF, which notched their first 20 win season in the last three, and clinched a first round bye in the American Athletic Conference Tournament. But their final two games are difficult ones, and UConn will provide a significant challenge to Houston’s goal of ending the season on a streak.
While UConn has fallen to fourth among post-season eligible teams in the AAC, with a record of 20-8 and 10-5 in conference, the Huskies are only two years removed from an NCAA National Championship. And even in that season, their regular season resume didn’t necessarily lead people to one to believe that they would win it all. So, this team could be similarly successful in postseason. However, they must finish the season strong to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. And that includes a win over Houston. The Huskies will be motivated to play their best ball.
While UConn has lost eight games, the bulk of these defeats came against formidable opponents, including the likes of Syracuse and Maryland. And in conference, they have lost only to teams currently ahead of them in the standings. They largely haven’t been able to grind out wins against the best in the American. But, with two games remaining on their schedule, and with the conference as tight as it is, the Huskies can still rise. Especially considering their last win was an 81-51 rout of USF.
UConn has four players averaging double digit scoring, including both Shonn Miller and Rodney Purvis, who both average 13.2. They are coached by Kevin Ollie, who led his Huskies team to a national championship the 2013-2014 season after a long career in the NBA. His 2015-2016 squad is experienced, with many players who know how to win.
The Cougars, on the other hand, have only begun to have sustained success. Their offense is as dynamic as it has been all season, and their rebounding has been the lifeblood of the team. They will have to keep this up if they want to win this game.
It will be the seniors’ last visit to Connecticut, and they will look to make the most out of it. Devonta Pollard and LeRon Barnes will likely play hard in their final regular season road game in a Cougar uniform. And perhaps also the team will play for senior L.J. Rose, who missed most of the season with nagging foot injuries. And, of course, a win will give the Cougars momentum going into their final game against Cincinnati and then the AAC Tournament, of which winning will be Houston’s only realistic shot of going to the NCAA Tournament.