Feb 12, 2021 6:28 p.m. PST
Xavier will try to shake off the rust and stay in the middle of the Big East race when UConn takes place at 12 p.m. ET Saturday at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.
Xavier is 11-2 overall, 4-2 in the Great East and has won three games. The Musketeers will play for the first time since January 30th due to COVID-19 protocols. They occupy third place in the conference behind Villanova (8-1) and Creighton (11-4).
UConn (8-5, 5-5) has lost two games in a row and four of their last five games and is the underdog in this matchup. The Huskies lose three games against the Spread.
Before Xavier took his unexpected two-week break, Senior Guard Paul Scruggs scored 24 points to help the Musketeers to a 68:55 win on Jan. 30 as a two-point underdog Butler.
It was the second highest score of the season for Scruggs and his fourth game with at least 20 points. He also had seven rebounds and three assists.
Xavier needed Scruggs’ offensive as top scorer Zach Freemantle was held down to six points despite the second striker pulling 10 rebounds down. It was the second lowest score of the season for Freemantle, averaging 15.0 points and 8.1 rebounds.
Junior guard Adam Kunkel scored some unexpected hits with 15 points. It was only the second time in eight games this season that Belmont’s transfer hit double digits.
Senior Guard Nate Johnson made 4 of 6 shots from the 3-point area to finish with 14 points, and increased his season average to 11.5. Johnson shoots 52.2% from a distance.
Xavier only made 6 of 12 free throws for 50.0%. The Musketeers helped offset this by shooting Butler up 34.3%, including 20.0% on 3-point attempts.
UConn left a 70-59 decision as 2.5 in Providence on Wednesday -Points favorite drop. The Huskies shot just 20.0% on 3-pointers, made 4 out of 20 and were 5 for 9 on the foul line for 55.6%.
R.J. Cole was a bright spot with 14 points and six templates. Tyrese Martin, Junior Guard, added 13 points and nine rebounds, while striker Adama Sanogo had his best all-round game with nine points, eight rebounds and the best five blocked shots of his career.
Martin with the steal and the dunk! Huskies have the edge at the start of this second half. # ThisIsUConn | #PullTheSled pic.twitter.com/arsqp8QAOQ
Cole and Martin increased their scores over the seven games. Second security guard James Bouknight, who averages a team high of 20.3 points per game, missed it during rehab after elbow surgery.
Martin has been in double digits in all seven games and Cole has that mark in the last six Play achieved.
Martin averages 11.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals a game while shooting 46.4% from a distance. Cole has an average of 11.2 points and 4.0 templates.
R.J. Cole with the plate to Whaley for easy dipping! Huskies to go until 42-28, 3:10 pm. # ThisIsUConn | #PullTheSled pic.twitter.com/VHZMO04UcQ
Sanogo has also increased the scoring pace lately. He’s averaged 10.8 points in his last five games after averaging just 4.0 points in his first eight games.
This is the first time Xavier and UConn have identified themselves as members of the Great East to meet. The Musketeers attended the conference for the 2013-14 season, which happened the same year the Huskies went to the American Athletic Conference before returning that season.
Xavier overtook UConn 75-74 in the Charleston Classic in last season in double overtime as a five-point favorite.
Xavier seems a little rusty after being gone for so long. However, the Musketeers have the better team and figure to assert themselves in a close game.
John Perrotto has reported and has been writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has been published in USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and others, among others. John is based in Beaver Falls, PA.
John Perrotto has been reporting and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has been published in USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and others, among others. John is based in Beaver Falls, PA.
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