Event: # 4 UConn Huskies vs. UNC Asheville (2-2)
Date/Time: Thanksgiving Day (November 24, 2011)-7 p.m. EDT.
Location: Imperial Arena at the Atlatic Resort (Capacity: 4,500), Paradise Island, Bahamas.
Broadcast Info: Thursday’ night’s first round game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament will be broadcast on HDNet nationally. Radio coverage of the game will be available throughout Connecticut and online on the WTIC/UConn Radio Network. Joe D’Ambrosio will be joined by Wayne Norman on the call.
Last Time Out: UConn won their fifteenth in a row Sunday behind a triple-double from Shabazz Napier (22 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds). Jeremy Lamb added 25 points in the team’s 87-70 win over Coppin State, as the Huskies overcame an early deficit to stay undefeated.
Matt Dickey scored a game-high 19 points in an 85-48 rout of Division II Brevard (NC) College. Playing against their second Division II opponent in a row, the Bulldogs shot over 62 percent from the field as 13 different players scored. Jon Nwannunu added 10 points and six rebounds and J.P. Primm chipped in eight points and eight assists.
Statistical Leaders: Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier lead the Huskies in scoring, combining for more than 40 points per game. Tyler Olander leads UConn in rebounding at 8.8 per game and Napier’s six assists per game is tops on the team. The Huskies are fourth best in the nation in rebounds per game with 46 and.
Four Bulldogs are averaging double-digit points but Matt Dickey leads the team with 15.8 points per game. Jeremy Atkinson is first in rebounding with 5.3 per game and J.P. Primm leads the team with 5.5 assists per game. UNC-Asheville is second in the country in points (91.3) and ninth in assists per game (19.5) but those numbers in deceptive because they take into account blowouts against two Division II programs.
Storyline: UConn comes into the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament as the heavy favorite and most likely won’t face much a challenge against UNC-Asheville. With Jeremy Lamb coming back fully healthy, the Huskies have a stocked roster than will batter the Bulldogs from anywhere on the floor. Jim Calhoun’s squad will have to deal with being away from home for the first time and their first tournament play without Kemba Walker.
UNC-Asheville will be trying to prove that they’re better than their first two performances after two blowouts of Division II schools. Coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance, the Bulldogs played in-state foes North Carolina State on the road and UNC at home but were unable to put any real pressure on the ACC squads. All the pressure will be on UNC-Asheville to prove that their offensive prowess is sustainable against top-flight talent because they will be beaten down inside.
Players to Watch:
Andre Drummond was a top 10 recruit for UConn and brewed up plenty of preseason hype from national analysts. Thus far Drummond has been rather quiet, with 5.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 40 percent shooting in 17 minutes per game. This weekend could be a chance for Drummond to show his prowess against some more competitive competition and it all starts tonight.
Senior point guard J.P. Primm is used to playing top-flight backcourts but for the Bulldogs to get a win, Primm will have to dominate. The senior has led UNC-Asheville to (bloated numbers) 92 points per game and 19 assists per game, but one key stat that’s stayed constant no matter the competition is nine turnovers per game. If Primm can handle the ball, make good decisions and light up the scoreboard, the Bulldogs could have a chance.
Prediction: UNC-Asheville is 0-2 against Division 1 programs and haven’t faced a team has talented as UConn on the road yet this season. Even if the Bulldogs give the Huskies some early scares, Calhoun and UConn will easily move on.
UConn 85, UNC-Asheville 63