Wednesday, February 6, 2013
W2W4: St. John's vs. Connecticut
By Kieran Darcy
Here are three things to watch for when St. John's (14-8, 6-4 Big East) plays Connecticut (15-5, 5-3 Big East) on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
Tip-off is at 7 p.m., and you can watch the game on ESPNU.
MISSING PIECE: St. John's is expected to be without starting guard Jamal Branch, who injured his left knee in Saturday's loss to Georgetown.
An MRI on Tuesday confirmed that Branch has a sprained MCL. St. John's coach Steve Lavin does not know how long Branch will be out of action.
Branch, who only became eligible in late December, was coming on of late -- one of the team's primary ballhandlers, and its third-leading scorer.
A number of players may pick up extra minutes in Branch's absence. Marco Bourgault, who scored a career-high 12 points on Saturday, could become more of a factor.
BOUNCE BACK?D'Angelo Harrison is coming off the worst game of his college career -- he scored just two points Saturday, shooting 0-for-9 from the field, and was benched for the final 8:52 of the game due to ineffectiveness.
Harrison, who is averaging 18.9 points per game -- 32nd in the country -- has only been held to single digits twice all season. Both of those games were against Georgetown. Look for Harrison to come out strong against UConn.
THE HUSKIES: Connecticut has won three games in a row, but against relatively weak competition -- home wins over Rutgers and South Florida, sandwiched around a road win at Providence. The Huskies needed overtime to win their past two games.
Don't forget that UConn is ineligible for postseason play, including the Big East tournament, this year.
The Huskies, under first-year coach Kevin Ollie, are led by the dynamic backcourt of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. Napier, a 6-foot-1 junior, is averaging 17.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Boatright, a 6-foot sophomore, is averaging 16.2 points, 4.6 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game.
UConn is one of the poorest rebounding teams in Division I -- ranked 316th (out of 345 schools) in rebound margin (-4.9). St. John's isn't much better, ranked 292nd (-4.0).
The Huskies are tied for 47th in the country in free throw percentage (73.3). The Red Storm are tied for 320th (63.2).