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CBB – Connecticut at Indiana (1:00 PM ET – CBS)
Sportsbook.com: Connecticut showed some heart for the first time in couple of seasons in defeating Marquette and coming from 12-points down with six minutes left at Cincinnati to win. The next challenge for the Huskies is to play well and win in the role of a road underdog, a role they are 1-11 ATS in over the last two seasons. That trend will be put to the test at Indiana in an early afternoon non-conference showdown.
If Hasheem Thabeet and Jerome Dyson can keep playing as well as they have, the Connecticut Huskies (13-6, 5-10 ATS) will have a shot. Indiana (18-1, 9-7 ATS) has been for more consistent than UConn and the defensive principles coach Kelvin Sampson has put in place are starting to pay dividends.
Early in the season the Hoosiers were not cohesive and gave up too many easy buckets. As the players learned to play together, the defense has improved. Indiana is 13-5 ATS versus very good teams outscoring their opponents by 8 or more points a game.
Key trend: Connecticut is an abysmal 4-12 ATS when playing against a team with a winning record after 15 or more games over the last two years.
This intra-sectional clash figures to be a real treat for late January. Two teams representing two major conferences with great history. The Hoosiers are led by one of the nation’s most potent 1-2 combos in freshman Eric Gordon and senior DJ White.
Gordon has more than lived up to his advance billing coming to play for Coach Sampson. He scored 25 points in his first Big Ten game vs. Iowa. That is the most points by a first year Hoosier in his first Big Ten game, breaking Steve Alford’s mark of 24 points.
Gordon is the leading scorer in the Big Ten at 23.5 points per game. He gets to the foul line often and is efficient, hitting 99 of 115 for an 86% mark. He’s also making 43% of his three point tries.
White is tallying 16.7 points per game with 10.9 rebounds per outing and registers two blocks per contest. He’s had eight double doubles in his last nine efforts. The 6’9” senior from Alabama is a force in the paint on both ends of the court.
Indiana is coming of a big win over rival Illinois 62-58. Gordon, who had originally planned on playing for Bruce Weber and the Illini, led the Hoosiers with 17 points. Indiana’s only loss this year was to Xavier, 80-65.
Jim Calhoun’s Huskies are a bit of a sleeper team in the Big East this year without the usual high expectations. They’ve lost four games already but to quality competition like Notre Dame (73-67), Georgetown (72-69), Gonzaga (85-82), and Memphis (81-70).
UConn has some balance with five players in double figures. The backcourt of Jerome Dyson a 6’4” sophomore and AJ Price, a 6’2” junior lead the scoring both averaging around 14 points per game.
Dyson had nine steals vs. St John’s. He does have more turnovers than assists and that’s not a source of happiness for Calhoun. Price adds 6.4 assists per outing.
Jeff Adrien is a 6’7” post player with an NFL tight end physique he brings 9.0 rebounds into the Huskies’ equation.
Hasheem Thabeet at 7’3” is an enigma for the Huskies as they await him fulfilling his potential. At times he’s a menace on the court witness his 10 blocks vs. Notre Dame.
He’s only a sophomore and already is in the record books with Emeka Okafor and Donyell Marshall in the shot blocking department.
Indiana 75, UConn 68
This one will be worth watching. The home crowd at Bloomington will give the Hoosiers an edge. Gordon and White are playing on another level. Thabeet will be a defensive weapon.
Again Indiana will have the two best players in action this night. Calhoun vs. Sampson will be an intriguing coaching matchup. You could see these two teams playing again in the tournament in March.
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