Preview: UConn Playing UMass Lowell Sunday
The little guy used to be an easy win for major basketball programs leading up to the start of conference play.
But this UConn team can ill afford to look past any opponent.
Even though 25th-ranked UConn (6-3) will be a decided favorite when it tips off with UMass-Lowell (4-5) at the XL Center in Hartford, the Huskies better not be peeking ahead to Texas.
Despite having an eight-day layoff for exams, the Huskies will be looking to build off their 75-55 win over Ohio State on Dec. 12. Against the Buckeyes, a balanced UConn attack played its best half of the season, which resulted in a 45-24 lead at the break.
"We can't look past anyone," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. "It's really about us trying to get better and the different things we are doing at a Level 3, which we want to do things at a Level 5.
"Hopefully our guys aren't looking past anybody or they are going to be on the bench with me."
The Huskies returned to work Friday after breaking for exams and seemed to have a good workout.
"I thought they had great intensity and they came ready to work," Ollie said. We worked for about an hour and thirty, got a good report on the guys so far."
The River Hawks are already a proven national power in the collegiate hockey ranks, but are still building on the basketball side. However, the America East squad has a win over a major school already this season having beaten Boston College. While the Eagles are a weakling in the ACC, it's still a good win for UMass-Lowell.
"They are a pretty good," fifth-year UConn senior Sterling Gibbs said. "At the same time we want to go in and play our game …We kind of want to just build off that and keep it going."
The big names on the schedule - Michigan, Syracuse or Gonzaga - would seem to be an easier motivator for the Huskies going in, but Kentan Facey said there's an easy way to approach every game no matter the opponent.
"Effort - that's something you can control every game, that doesn't matter who you play," he said. "If you do the same thing against these guys as everybody else, it's probably going to work."
Game Notes: Tip-off is at 4 p.m, the game will be televised on SNY and ESPN3...Senior guard Omar Calhoun led the Huskies in scoring the last time out, with 14 points against Ohio State...This will be the first-ever meeting between these two programs on the basketball court...UMass Lowell is in its third year as a Division 1 team...Rodney Purvis is currently leading the Huskies in scoring on the season with 13.9 ppg...Daniel Hamilton is a close second, with 13.3 ppg and is leading the team in rebounds per game at 8.2 - almost three full rebounds per game more than the team's second-leading rebounder Shonn Miller.