Sacred Heart Pioneers vs. Connecticut Huskies Preview and Predictions 11-08-2019

Last season was one of rebuilding for Connecticut under first-year head coach Dan Hurley, with the team failing to break .500 in the American Athletic Conference for the second straight year. This season, with very limited roster turnover, the Huskies will look to return to form, starting with a home game against Sacred Heart on Friday night.

Following massive upheaval throughout and after the coaching change, zero players transferred away from the program this offseason. Connecticut returns the fearsome backcourt combo of Christian Vital and Alterique Gilbert, both versatile guards who combined to average 26.8 points last season while shooting 40.9 and 33.6 percent, respectively, from 3-point range. Four-star freshman Jalen Gaffney, also viewed as a combo-guard, will likely form a backcourt trio. The Huskies will take on a Sacred Heart team that, despite getting blown out in its opener by Providence (106-60), looks to be one of the favorites in the Northeast Conference.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, SNY, ESPN3.

ABOUT SACRED HEART (0-1): Tuesday's opener showed forward E.J. Anosike, last season's NEC Most Improved Player and 2019 first-team all-conference selection, will lead the way as he dropped 20 points and pulled down seven rebounds. He will pair with 6-foot-10 center Jare'l Spellman, who averaged three blocks last season, to form a daunting pair in the paint. Guard Koreem Ozier averaged 14 points as a freshman a season ago and looks to be a major contributor along with redshirt junior Kinnon LaRose, who scored 11 points against Providence.

ABOUT CONNECTICUT (2018-2019: 16-17): The biggest get for the Huskies was five-star recruit Akok Akok. The 6-10 Akok joins fellow center Josh Carlton, who was co-Most Improved Player in the AAC last season thanks to making 63 percent of his field goals. Isaiah Whaley, a recruit of former coach Kevin Ollie who seldom played last season, has seen significant minutes in the team's secret scrimmage and exhibition and could bring his athleticism and shot-blocking ability to what could be a potent frontcourt.


1. UConn went 8-1 in non-conference home games last season.

2. UConn has missed consecutive NCAA Tournaments for the first time since 1990.

3. Sacred Heart point guard Cameron Parker led the NEC with 6.9 assists per game last season.


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Harry A. Gampel Pavilion
Storrs, Connecticut, USA.
Capacity: 10,167

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