GAME NOTES: The Connecticut Huskies and Marquette Golden Eagles will open up Big East Conference play on New Year's Day when they square off at the Bradley Center.
The Huskies clipped Washington, 61-53, on Saturday to improve to 10-2 on the season. The victory came after the university announced that Connecticut's coach Kevin Ollie received a new six-year contract. UConn went into the intermission on top, 31-26, after it converted 11-of-16 attempts at the charity stripe. It then heated up after the break to knock down 57.1 percent of its shots from the field. Ollie's team is playing well in its first season under his watch. The Huskies are coming in on a four-game winning streak with an average margin of victory of 16.3 ppg during the span.
Marquette is coming off a 75-66 victory over North Carolina Central on Saturday to pick up its fourth win in five outings. MU hit 60 percent of its field-goal attempts, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range to fend of NCCU. Coach Buzz Williams's team has been successful on both ends of the floor as it is scoring 70.4 points per game on 47.7 percent shooting, while limiting its opposition to 61.5 ppg with a .404 field-goal percentage. However, a self- imposed punishment by Marquette because of an NCAA violation will force it to play without Williams on the bench tonight.
This will be the ninth meeting in history between these Big East rivals on the hardwood. Marquette holds a 5-3 edge in the all-time series
UConn could not find the touch from beyond the arc its last time out, as it went just 2-of-14 from long distance. The Huskies managed to take down Washington by hitting 20-of-30 of their two-point attempts. Omar Calhoun scored a team-high 14 points and Shabazz Napier added 13 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Ryan Boatright chipped in 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field. Napier is pacing the Huskies with 16.5 ppg, while Boatright (15.8 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Calhoun (11.2 ppg) are second and third in scoring, respectively. DeAndre Daniels (10 ppg and 4.3 rpg) is a solid threat from the forward slot.
Senior guard Junior Cadougan and junior guard Vander Blue netted 16 points each to help Marquette down NCCU on Saturday. Todd Mayo chipped in 12 points for the Golden Eagles, who finished strong after allowing their opposition to tie the score at 60 with 6:27 left in regulation. Blue, who has scored in double figures in seven of his last nine games, leads the team with 13.4 ppg. Davante Gardner is adding 12.5 points to go along with a team-best 5.1 boards per contest. Cadougan (9.5 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Jamil Wilson (9.0 ppg, 52.2 percent 3PT) are key contributors as well.
Marquette will have to adjust to the red-hot Huskies without Williams on the bench. UConn's trio of guards does a great job of controlling the tempo, but they have already combined for 73 turnovers (6.1 per game). Blue's performance will play a vital factor in the outcome as Marquette will need him to provide a boost.
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