January 04, 2016

Led by some solid guard play and a renewed focus on the defensive end, Kevin Ollie's Connecticut team has returned to the AP Top 25 following a two-week hiatus.

This time, the 23rd-ranked Huskies hope to stay there as they try to remain unbeaten at home Tuesday night against Temple, which is coming off one of its worst performances of the season.

After spending two years at Seton Hall, Sterling Gibbs is already proving to be a valuable addition in his first season with UConn. He stepped up with a big 3-pointer Saturday to halt Tulane's 17-0 run before hitting another to give the Huskies back the lead in a 75-67 road win.

Gibbs scored 13 of his 16 in the final 6:32 while adding with eight rebounds and seven assists in the American Athletic Conference opener. The senior guard, who averaged 16.3 points for the Pirates last season, has scored in double figures in each of his last four games.

''We knew when we got him that we were going to have a player down the stretch who would take big shots," Ollie said. "(I'm) not saying he's going to make all of them, but he will take them with confidence."

Rodney Purvis, who leads the Huskies with 15.6 points per game, is averaging 20 points while making 14 of 24 from 3-point range over his last four. Fellow backcourt starter Daniel Hamilton just missed his sixth double-double Saturday with 19 points and nine rebounds.

With its fifth straight win, Ollie's squad moved back into the poll for the first time since its was No. 25 in the week of Dec. 14. That stay was short-lived after UConn (10-3, 1-0) allowed UMass-Lowell to shoot 50 percent in an 88-79 home win.

The Huskies, who rank third among AAC teams by holding opponents to 38.3 percent shooting, have gotten back on track by giving up a 38.2 mark in their last three. They should be able to continue that trend as they go after their second 8-0 home start in four seasons.

Temple (6-6, 1-1) was riding high during a 5-2 stretch following an impressive 77-70 win at then-No. 22 Cincinnati last Tuesday. The Owls, however, fell flat Saturday when they shot 34.5 percent - including 3 for 23 from 3-point range - in a 77-50 home loss to Houston.

"We thought we had some momentum building up," coach Fran Dunphy said. "We had a terrific win on the road, but it's not good enough. Every day you have to come out ready to go."

Obi Enechionyia and Quenton DeCosey led Temple with just nine points apiece Saturday. DeCosey had averaged 18.5 over his previous four games but the senior guard has struggled against the Huskies with 13.5 per game on 30 percent shooting in four career meetings.

After allowing the Cougars to shoot 54.4 percent, the Owls will have to tighten things up against a UConn team that ranks among the nation's top 15 with a 50.3 field-goal percentage.

Amida Brimah, however, is sidelined for at least four more weeks after suffering a broken finger on Dec. 21. The 7-foot center leads the Huskies with a 72.5 field-goal percentage.

UConn had won four straight in this series before Temple took both meetings last season. Purvis had 18 points in the March loss, but Hamilton missed 19 of 24 shots in the two games.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)