Connecticut Huskies vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 9th 2023

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Fifth-ranked UConn will play the first of its two remaining non-conference games when it meets visiting Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday afternoon in Storrs, Conn.

The Huskies (8-1) will play No. 7 Gonzaga in Seattle on Dec. 15 before they enter the Big East portion of their schedule. UConn bounced back from a 69-65 loss to Kansas last Friday by defeating No. 9 North Carolina 87-76 on Tuesday in the Jimmy V Classic.

“We got everything that we wanted to get out of this, when we put this on the schedule,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “The atmosphere was awesome, the opponent is one of the best teams in the country. It was just such a great test, coming off the disappointment in the Kansas loss, on the road, and playing an opponent like this, coming in with a couple of guys banged up. Just to put that type of impressive performance speaks to the group that we have this year.”

UConn’s Cam Spencer collected 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists during the victory over the Tar Heels. Spencer is averaging 15.9 points per game and is the team’s No. 2 scorer behind Tristen Newton (17.1).

Alex Karaban recorded 18 points and nine rebounds, Newton finished with 14 points and freshman Solomon Ball netted a career-high 13.

“Playing these games (in the Jimmy V Classic) has been a great experience,” Ball said. “I think going into the Big East games I feel like we’re all going to be prepared. We didn’t take losing too well (at Kansas), but we focused on putting that last game behind us, locked in on this game and you saw how it turned out. That was just what we wanted, that was everything to us.

“I could care less about my offensive end, I just want to make sure my team is winning at the end of the day. If nothing’s falling, you just gotta lock in on defense.”

Saturday’s contest will wrap up a difficult three-game stretch for Arkansas-Pine Bluff (4-6). The Golden Lions are coming off road losses to No. 19 Oklahoma and Gonzaga.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff, which was picked 10th in the SWAC preseason poll, missed its first 14 field goal attempts in the loss to Gonzaga and shot 9 of 34 in the first half. Gonzaga led by as many as 49 points in the second half.

“They played it the right way and basically got a practice in the way they cleared the bench,” Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach Solomon Bozeman said. “(The loss) was a learning experience for our team and our staff, getting to see what an elite team looks like.”

Joe French made eight 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 26 points against Gonzaga. Rashad Williams added 17 points and Kylen Milton finished with 13.

UConn guard Stephon Castle returned to the court against North Carolina after missing six games with a knee injury. Castle, who was selected as the Big East Preseason Freshman of the Year, came off the bench and had three points and four assists in 10 minutes.

–Field Level Media

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