Huskies Look to Crush Orange

UConn welcomes rival Syracuse to Gampel for top 25 showdown

There is one game left in this streak of seven that has defined UConn's season so far. 

They have passed all tests, both at home and on the road. Now comes the final exam - a face-off with arch rival #23 Syracuse (18-6/6-5) and Hall-of-Fame head coach Jim Boeheim. 

Number 1 UConn (22-1/10-1)  comes into this game riding an 11-game winning streak. They look to make it a 12 gamer, their first since 2001-02, tonight in Storrs at 7 p.m.

UConn comes into this match-up playing the best ball in the country. 

Their defense has been outstanding, anchored by Hasheem Thabeet, while their offense has been very well balanced with up to seven guys who can lead the team in scoring on any given night. 

Coach Jim Calhoun has shortened his rotation to eight players and the consistency is starting to show. 

Normally, when you play Syracuse, you can expect a healthy dose of the "2-3 zone" - a defense that Syracuse has run for years. When on, it might be the best in the country. 

This year, they are mixing in more man-man for different looks. On one side, it keeps the offense off balance by switching looks, but the other side is ugly. 

Since neither defense has been steady this year, Syracuse has given up a ton of points. Two of the last three Orange opponents have broken the century mark (Villanova and Providence). 

The high/low game of Jeff Adrian and Thabeet could be great zone busters. The Huskies will need AJ Price, Jerome Dyson and Craig Austrie to be dead-on from beyond the arc when the zone collapses on UConn's two bigs. 

I think both PG's for the Huskies, Price and Kemba Walker, can exploit one-on-one match-ups in the 'Cuse's "D" when it switches to man-on-man. Expect a plethora of ally-oops to Thabeet when Syracuse employs that strategy.

Syracuse comes into this game on a bit of a downswing. 

After starting the season 16-1, they have lost five of seven and a win tonight would certainly turn their season around. 

They are led on offense by the back court of Jonny Flynn (17.2 ppg) and Eric Devendorf (15.5).  They will look to push the ball up court and score fast. 

The Orange are second in conference scoring and are tops in 3 point percentage. If they can jump out to an early lead, that zone defense will be even tougher to crack. 

Another focus for Syracuse will be getting Paul Harris going. Last year, the junior forward had 24 points and 11 rebounds in a 63-61 UConn win. 

His quickness on the inside caused a lot of problems for the Huskies.

This should be another entertaining game pitting two hall-of-fame coaches and two of the best Big East programs in history.  A win tonight would go a long way in helping UConn wrap up its 11th regular season league title.

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