Friars Look to Sweep UCONN and Position Itself for NCAA Tournament Bid: Game Preview

The Friars will make the trip to Storrs, CT Tuesday night (6:30pm FS1) looking to sweep UConn for the first time since the 2007-2008 season. It sounds as if James Bouknight should return for the Huskies, based off the initial Vegas line of -6.5 for UCONN. UCONN also looked good in a win at Xavier over the weekend, so it certainly won’t be an easy task for the Friars.

If you missed it, we’ve included below the game 1 preview and recap:

UCONN Game 1 Preview: https://theprovidencecrier.com/2021/02/09/providence-uconn-preview-the-return-of-the-huskies/#more-3227

UCONN Game 1 Recap: https://theprovidencecrier.com/2021/02/11/pc-uconn-recap-friars-snap-3-game-skid-70-59/#more-3240

With 4 games remaining in the regular season, Providence at a minimum has to go 3-1 to keep their NCAA hopes alive. There is a lot on the line for this game.

Key Themes

Incorporating Injured Starters

This will be something both UConn and the Friars will have to deal with. PC got a bit of a head start with starting point guard Jared Bynum returning for the Friars in limited second half minutes (we discussed this here https://theprovidencecrier.com/2021/02/15/providence-comfortably-wins-against-depaul-takeaways-and-themes-for-remainder-of-season/#more-3265).

Bouknight is expected return from an injury that has held him out since January 5th. UConn could really use Bouknight’s scoring, while Bynum is vital for David Duke to play more off the ball. Seeing how these two are reincorporated into the action Tuesday will be worth monitoring.

Perimeter D Needs to Be The Focus

In the past two games the Friars have held opponents to 7-of-29 (24%) from three, including holding the Huskies to 20% (4/20). The defense has uncharacteristically been absent for the Friars for a good portion of the season, but they seem much more locked in with communicating and rotating on defense lately. This will need to continue this against UConn team that is most dangerous when they consistently make perimeter shots, as they made 11/26 from deep in the win at Xavier.

Staying Aggressive on Offense

UConn had 8 blocks against PC in the first meeting but that didn’t deter the Friars from attacking the paint. The Friars were rewarded with 27 free throw attempts. They need to continue to attack the basket and play inside-out, even if it does lead to some UConn rejections.

We don’t think there is a guard on UConn’s roster that can contain David Duke, and we don’t want to see him settling for jumpers when he can attack the rim with relative ease. By doing so, it will suck the big man over to help which can potentially lead to easy offensive rebounds or a nice pass from Duke for an uncontested bucket.

Questions Heading into Game

1. How many minutes will Bynum see? Does his minute total double from the DePaul game (7 minutes)

2. Does Bouknight play? If so, how many minutes? How effective is he?

3. Does Akok earn more minutes after a strong showing against Xavier?

4. Can Horchler continue his dominant rebounding streak against the Huskies?

5. Will Coach Cooley coach?

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