This game between #10 Marquette and #21 UConn was Road To the Garden's Big East Game of the Week. Two teams ranked in this week's AP Top 25 Poll will certainly live up to the hype. The UConn Huskies come into this matchup 18-6 overall (7-6 in Big East) while the Golden Eagles are atop of the Big East rankings at 19-5 overall and 11-2 in conference play.
The last time these two teams played was at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. Marquette came away with an 82-76 victory over UConn. It was dominated by Donovan Clingan who had 20 pts and 10 rebounds. It will be huge to have him and others off the bench have a good game too. For the Golden Eagles, Oso Ighodaro had 19 pts and 3 ast.
What's at stake?
The Huskies are 3-2 in their last 5 games and are looking to get back on track after a rough middle of the season. Andre Jackson had a huge game vs Georgetown and it was his efforts late in the game that helped UConn prevail. His defensive efforts have improved throughout the season and that is great to see. UConn's identity is that perimeter defense, but it has shown signs of weakness in the middle of the season.
Alex Karaban will be the X factor in this ballgame. If UConn wants to upset the #10 team in the country, then Karaban will need to have a big game. Against Georgetown, he had 11 pts and 4 rebs. He was acting like a floor general and his defense was much needed too. Earlier this season, Karaban put up 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 54% shooting. He will have to replicate this to help UConn get the win.
UConn will have to hold Kam Jones. He is putting up 17 ppg on the road and had 15 against UConn in their first meeting. Karaban and/or Jackson will have to slow him down. It will be a hard test, but the trend we are seeing from UConn is that they are able to fight.
This time around, UConn is the home team and is 11-2 at home. A big test to see how this UConn team can handle a high-caliber matchup. We have seen them struggle in close games, but the most recent win vs Georgetown gave some hope that this UConn team has grown and is ready for any challenge in their way.