UConn-Seton Hall Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- Connecticut is in good shape to go unbeaten during this stretch without Jim Calhoun.
The eighth-ranked Huskies look to defeat Seton Hall for the 12th straight time Tuesday night in a Big East matchup at the Prudential Center.
Calhoun will be finishing a three-game suspension for failing to create an atmosphere of compliance within the program, with George Blaney serving as interim coach. Without Calhoun, Connecticut (12-1, 2-0) has won its first two Big East games for the first time since a 3-0 start in 2003-04.
"We definitely want to get 3-0 for him and for ourselves," top scorer Jeremy Lamb said. "We want to win just as bad as he do. I know it's hard for him watching. We're still running coach Calhoun's system. One more game and we'll be good."
After surviving for a 60-57 win at South Florida on Wednesday, the Huskies returned home and cruised to an 83-69 victory over St. John's on Saturday. Connecticut shot a season-high 60.4 percent against the Red Storm as Shabazz Napier had 17 points and nine assists.
"I told the guys, 'I'm not selfish at all,'" Napier said. "I want to get 15, I want to get 20 assists. That's good for me."
The Huskies used excellent ball movement to finish with 21 assists while making 9 of 16 from 3-point range.
"For the most part, we did a good job of passing the ball," Blaney said. "I was really happy with that aspect of the game."
UConn is the Big East's top shooting team at 49.6 percent. Lamb is the conference's second-leading scorer with 18.9 points per game.
Seton Hall (12-2, 1-1) also features an offensive star in Herb Pope, fourth in the Big East with an 18.6 scoring average and second with 10.9 rebounds per game. The senior forward, however, has struggled in his last four contests, averaging 9.8 points and 8.8 boards.
The Pirates have not beaten the Huskies since a 65-63 win March 3, 2001. They fell 61-59 at home in the last meeting Feb. 5 despite leading by as many as 14 points and by 10 with eight minutes remaining.
Seton Hall fared poorly in its first game against a ranked opponent this season Wednesday in a 75-49 defeat at No. 1 Syracuse. The Pirates bounced back with Friday's 67-48 victory over West Virginia, improving to 8-0 at home.
Fuquan Edwin scored 19 points and Jordan Theodore added 18 and eight assists. Theodore avoided any turnovers for the second time this season in 37 minutes.
"I said after the Syracuse game that this was a must-win and that we were going to get it," Theodore said. "Did I lie? Did I?"
How Theodore fares in his point guard matchup with Napier will help determine Tuesday's outcome. Theodore leads the conference in assists with 7.0 per game and Napier is second at 6.6.
Another matchup to watch could happen if UConn chooses to employ freshman center Andre Drummond to slow down Pope. Drummond had 16 points and 11 rebounds Saturday, and is third in the Big East with 2.6 blocks per game.
Updated January 2, 2012