After a few seasons playing out in the American Athletic Conference, the UConn Huskies are back where they belong -- the Big East. It just felt wrong for the four-time national champs to be anywhere else. The Huskies won their first two game of the season against in-state foes, but now they face SEC opponent Vanderbilt in the Mohegan Sun bubble in Connecticut. The Commodores are 1-0 on the year. These two foes have not met in recent history so it should be an interesting matchup between power conference contenders. Vanderbilt is listed as the home team, but the game is just a few miles from the UConn campus so go figure.
UConn improves to 2-0The "visiting" Huskies are off to a solid start in their first year back in the Big East after several years in the AAC. Their first two wins came against in-state rivals Central Connecticut and Hartford, from the Northeast Conference and America East, respectively. UConn destroyed Central Connecticut 102-75 on Wednesday and then followed up with a 69-57 win over Hartford. In the win, the Huskies shot 44% and held Hartford to 32% shooting.
James Bouknight, an all-conference preseason selection, had 18 points to lead the Huskies. RJ Cole, Isaiah Whalley and Jalen Gaffney each added 10 points. Whaley also had 10 rebounds. The Huskies were picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big East. They lost Chritian Vital, who averaged 16 points per game, and Alterique Gibson (8 ppg) but most of the rest of the key players are back. Cole, a transfer from Howard, and Tyrese Martin, a transfer from URI, are nice new additions. Martin had 6 points and 10 rebounds against Hartford.
Commodores lose 2 starsThe Vanderbilt Commodores have the unenviable task of playing in the SEC, one of the toughest conferences in the country. Last year, Jerry Stackhouse's team finished in last place in the conference with a record of 11-21 and 3-15 in the conference. And that was with 2 very good players in Saben Lee, who averaged 18 points per game, and Aaron Nesmith, now of the Boston Celtics, who averaged 23 points per game. they are both gone and the Commodores will have a lot of offense to replace.
You got a sense of who would pick up the slack in the Commodores 77-71 win over Valparaiso in their season opener last week. Namely, one Scotty Pippen Jr, the son of the great Scotty Pippen, who emerged as the go-to guy with 25 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals against Valpo. Maxwell Evans, who averaged 8 points per game last year, added 16 points in the loss. DJ Harvey, a transfer from Notre dame, added 8 points and 5 rebounds while returning plyer Dylan Disu chipped in with 6 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. Isaac McBride, a transfer from Kansas, added 7 points.
Stats & Trends
- Huskies are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Commodores were 15-16-1 ATS in 2019-20
Take UConn here to cover the spread. This is listed as a home game for Vanderbilt but UConn's campus is not more than a few miles from Mohegan Sun. That gives the Huskies an advantage, even without crowds. This is a tough one to call because we're not sure yet what both of these teams are. Vanderbilt will count on Pippen, but is there anyone else who will emerge as a reliable scorer? UConn has the best player on the court in Bouknight and more depth with a reliable scorers in Gaffney and Whaley. It's the first good test for both of these teams so we should find out more after this game.