Preview: Connecticut at Memphis
Connecticut has had its share of ups-and-downs in the first year under coach Dan Hurley, but it is about to face perhaps its biggest challenge playing without senior star guard Jalen Adams for the next four to six weeks – which could mean the season. Looking for a new leader, the Huskies will take to the road Sunday to play a Memphis team that is 11-2 at home with both defeats coming against ranked opponents.
UConn began the season 6-1, including a win against Syracuse, and fans seemed attracted to Hurley’s intense attitude and aggressive play on the court, but the club has dropped all five of its road games in American Athletic Conference play and seven of its last 11 games overall. Adams, who played just six minutes in the 81-63 defeat to Temple on Wednesday before suffering a sprained MCL in his left knee, was leading the team in scoring (17.0 points) while contributing 3.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.1 steals per contest. Memphis has its own star guard in Jeremiah Martin, who made a career-high eight 3-pointers and scored a game-high 26 points against No. 23 Cincinnati, but it wasn’t enough as the Bearcats rallied from an 11-point deficit early in the second half for a 69-64 victory on Thursday. “We didn’t rebound the ball (well) in the second half and they got a couple of easy baskets,” said Martin, who was coming off a career-high 41-point effort at South Florida. “That’s what allowed them to push away.”
TV: 2 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
ABOUT CONNECTICUT (13-10, 4-6 American): Sophomore forward Josh Carlton (8.6 points, 5.9 rebounds) didn’t post a double-double in his first 54 games at UConn, but the 6-9 forward had 18 points and 13 boards against Temple for his second straight, following a 20-point, 16-rebound performance against East Carolina. Junior guard Christian Vital (14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds) had 18 points and 13 rebounds against the Owls, while Eric Cobb added 13 points and five boards as guard Alterique Gilbert (13.0 points, 3.8 assists) missed his third straight game with a shoulder injury. UConn won the battle of the boards, 41-30, but shot just 40.3 percent, including 4-of-18 from 3-point range, and allowed the Owls to shoot 52.7 percent, including 11-of-23 beyond the arc.
ABOUT MEMPHIS (13-10, 5-5): Senior forward Kyvon Davenport (14.3 points, 7.4 rebounds) had 12 points and 10 boards as the Tigers lost for the first time this season when holding an opponent to less than 40 percent from the field (39.7 percent). In his past two games, Martin (16.7 points, 4.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds) has scored 67 points and connected on 22-of-39 field goals and 15-of-23 shots beyond the arc to reach 1,301 career points – 20th most in school history. Freshman guard Tyler Harris, a Top-100 recruit, is averaging 12.1 points but is shooting just 37.2 percent from the floor, including just 31.8 percent on 7.7 attempts beyond the arc per game.
1. Memphis swept the season series last season.
2. Martin is four points behind David Vaughn (1992-95) and 18 points behind his coach, Penny Hardaway (1992-93) and Alvin Wright (1975-78) on the school’s all-time list.
3. Richard Hamilton, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 1999 Final Four after leading UConn to its first NCAA National Championship, is scheduled to return to Connecticut to join his former teammates for a celebration on Sunday, Feb. 24.