It’s a battle of AAC opponents on the hardwood coming to you from the Constitution State. The UCF Knights are on the road as they travel up into the New England area to face the Connecticut Huskies Wednesday night. UCF was edged 75-74 at home by Tulane in their last game Saturday. Connecticut earned a 78-71 home victory over South Florida Sunday afternoon in their last contest. The Huskies own an 11-4 advantage in the all-time series but the Knights have won the last three meetings. That includes a 73-67 road win in the first meeting this season January 31. The Huskies covered in that game as a seven-point underdog.
UCF Knights Trying to Get Back on TrackUCF started the season strong but things have unraveled in a hurry coming into this contest as they try to right a rapidly sinking ship. The Knights come into the game 14-12 overall and 5-9 in the AAC, leaving them ninth in the conference standings as the end of the regular season looms. started the year 9-2 with wins over Pepperdine and Charleston. Their lone losses in that stretch were at home to Miami and by one point on a neutral floor against Penn. Things went south in a hurry after that as the Knights dropped five straight games, beginning with a one-point loss at Oklahoma and followed by four straight conference losses. UCF had won three of four, including a double-overtime road win over Cincinnati, before the loss to Tulane.
The Knights put up an average of 69 points per contest (241st in the country) this season. UCF pulls down 35.5 rebounds per contest while dishing out 13.5 assists per game this season. The Knights are an above-average team on the defensive end of the floor, ranking 145th in the nation by allowing 68.1 points per game. Collin Smith leads the team with 12.5 points plus 6.2 rebounds a night. Dazon Ingram chips in 8.9 points plus 7.4 boards a night. Darin Green Jr. (9.5 points), Brandon Mahan, Frank Bertz, Avery Diggs, Dre Fuller Jr., Matt Milon and Ceaser DeJesus (9.8 points) are all important rotation players for the Knights. UCF is shooting 42.6 percent from the floor as a team this season. The Knights drain 6.9 triples a night while shooting 31.5 percent from beyond the arc. UCF is cashing in only 70.8 percent of their chances at the free throw line. Fuller Jr. is done for the season
As a team, UCF is better on the defensive end of the floor according to KenPom.com than they are offensively. The Knights are 102nd in defensive efficiency this season and rank 88th in effective field goal percentage defense (47.5 percent) on the year. In addition, UCF is 86th in turnover percentage (20.4 percent) and 102nd in two-point field goal percentage as they hold the opposition to 47.2 percent shooting this season. One thing to watch for offensively is UCF’s ability to crash the offensive glass as they are 127th in offensive rebounding percentage by collecting boards on 29.3 percent of their own misses. UCF is a slower-paced team as they are 206th in tempo with 67.6 possessions per game.
Connecticut Huskies Try to Build MomentumConnecticut started the year strong but things have come apart of late, leaving them scrambling for answers. The Huskies are 15-12 overall on the year and stand 6-8 in the AAC, leaving them seventh in the standings entering this contest. Connecticut started the year 9-3 with a home win over Florida plus neutral floor wins over Buffalo and Miami (FL) this season. Since then, the wheels have come off the bus for the Huskies and they are in search of the way to turn things around. Connecticut has dropped nine of their last 15 games. They hope to earn a home victory here to climb closer to .500 in conference play.
The Huskies are pretty average on the offensive end of the floor as they put up an average of 71.7 points per game, putting them 159th in the nation in scoring offense. Connecticut is grabbing 38 boards a night while they are dishing out 12.8 assists a night. The Huskies are pretty solid on the defensive end, ranking 107th by allowing 66.8 points a night. Christian Vital leads the team with 15.1 points plus 6.4 rebounds per game this season. He is one of two players averaging in double figures for the team this season. James Bouknight (12.7 points), Tyler Polley, Alterique Gilbert, Josh Carlton, Brendan Adams, Akok Akok and Sidney Wilson are critical pieces of the rotation for Dan Hurley and the Huskies. Connecticut is shooting 41.4 percent from the field as a team this season. The Huskies average 7.1 three-pointers a game while shooting 33 percent from three-point range. Connecticut has knocked down 73.4 percent of their attempts at the charity stripe this season.
The Huskies have been rock solid on the defensive end of the floor this season but it has yet to completely mask their offensive issues. Connecticut is 89th in offensive efficiency while standing 55th in defensive efficiency this season. The Huskies are 43rd in effective field goal percentage defense (46.2 percent), 34th in turnover percentage (22.2 percent), 26th in two-point field goal percentage defense (44.3 percent) and sixth in block percentage (15.9 percent) this season. Connecticut is a fairly average team in pace as they are 194th in tempo as they average 67.9 possessions a night.
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