Xavier Musketeers vs. Connecticut Huskies Pick & Prediction JANUARY 10th 2024

No. 4 UConn will look to continue its Midwest swing on a winning note when the Huskies visit Xavier on Wednesday night in Cincinnati in a Big East matchup. The Huskies (13-2, 3-1) rallied Friday to post their third straight win – all in the Big East – and third in a row overall. Trailing 42-35 at the half, UConn used 63 percent shooting in the second half to beat Butler 88-81 at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Alex Karaban led the Huskies with 20 points while Tristen Newton added 17 points and five assists. Cam Spencer and Stephon Castle each chipped in with 14 points, and Castle had nine rebounds. “I was just doing whatever I could to help the team win,” Castle said. “If what I’m doing out there, not stats-wise, but just affecting the game defensively and getting my teammates the ball, if that was the best game I had, then (OK).” “To almost have a double-double in Hinkle Fieldhouse, in the Big East, it speaks to how much better he’s getting every day,” Karaban said. “He’s getting more and more comfortable out there. He’s becoming a star in the making, not a typical freshman.” The Huskies led 23-22 before Butler went on a 9-0 run to take its largest lead of the day at 31-23. “We were soft in the first half; they took it to us,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “We came here to play basketball, but not fight the way you need to in a Big East game. We fought for the last 20 (minutes).” Xavier (7-7, 1-2) has been off since losing 66-65 at Villanova last Wednesday. The Musketeers had two chances to win the game in the closing seconds. Desmond Claude couldn’t convert a layup in close and missed on a 14-foot running jumper at the buzzer. Xavier nearly made up a double-digit deficit by holding Villanova without a field goal for the final six minutes and just one in the final 10 minutes.

“We lost the game because throughout the game we didn’t rebound well enough. Our major problem is we really struggle to block out, to keep the other team off the offensive glass,” Xavier coach Sean Miller said. For the game, Villanova had 11 offensive rebounds that yielded 17 second-chance points. “The fact that they were able to get those second shots, it broke our back, and it’s broken our back against Washington, Oakland, Delaware, St. John’s. Really in every loss we’ve had, that’s an area that’s been a problem,” Miller said. Xavier swept the two meetings last season with the eventual 2023 national champion Huskies, including an 83-73 decision at Xavier in which Hurley picked up a late technical in a one-possession game. Xavier graduate student Quincy Olivari is second in the Big East in scoring at 17.9 points per game. Olivari is averaging 23.2 points over the last six games. Olivari is third in the Big East in 3-point field goals per game at 2.79 and second in 3-point percentage at 41.1.

–Field Level Media

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