Alabama Basketball Opponent Preview: UCONN Huskies

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama basketball advanced to the semifinal round of the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Oregon, where it will take on the 20th-ranked UCONN Huskies. It will be the second straight ranked opponent for Alabama, who beat another college basketball brand name in Michigan State last night.

UCONN will be a stiff test for the Crimson Tide. The Huskies are 6-0, and have not won a game by fewer than 20 points this season. They defeated the Oregon Ducks soundly in the opening round of the PKI. Oregon was the first high-major opponent of the year for UCONN, but did not provide much of a challenge, losing by a score of 83-59.

Alabama Basketball: UCONN Personnel can cause issues

Junior big Adama Sanogo leads the Huskies with averages of 19.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. The three-year starter is shooting 68 percent from the field, and has also added a new weapon to his offensive arsenal. Sanogo has made six of nine three-point attempts this season, after previously having just one career attempt from beyond the arc. He is a force in the paint and on the glass, and is a very good shot blocker.

ECU transfer Tristen Newton has been a great backcourt piece for the Huskies. Newton is averaging 13.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from the three-point line. He scored over 1,000 points in three seasons as an East Carolina Pirate, and has had no problem translating that success.

Earlier this season, he notched a triple-double in a win over Buffalo. In the defeat of Nate Oats’ previous team, Newton scored 22 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, notched 11 assists and recorded four steals. More recently, he scored 23 points, hit five of six three-pointers, and dished out six assists against Oregon.

Sophomore wing Jordan Hawkins dealt with a head injury earlier this season, but is back in the lineup and has been one of UCONN’s best scorers. The volume shooter is averaging 12.3 points per game. Redshirt freshman Alex Karaban is another good shooter. The 6’8” forward has been steady, scoring in double figures in five of six games and averaging 10.2 points per game.

Freshman center Donavan Clingan has also made a big impact for the Huskies. The 7’2” giant comes off the bench to spell Sanogo and has dominated the paint at times. Clingan is averaging 9.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game.

San Diego transfer Joey Calcaterra has been a steadying presence in the UCONN backcourt. The fifth-year senior is shooting 57 percent from three and averaging 9.0 points per game. Virginia Tech transfer Naheim Alleyne has also supplemented Dan Hurley’s backcourt. Alleyne is a gritty and physical veteran guard that has started 90 career games at the high-major level.

UCONN features two quality post players in Adama Sanogo and Donavan Clingan, and has shot the lights out from the three-point line this season. The Huskies have made at least 10 three-pointers in four of six games so far, and shot at least 43 percent in all four of those contests. They hit 17 treys at a 46-percent clip in their rout of Oregon. Alabama will have to run the Huskies off the three-point line in this matchup.

Next. Bama tops Michigan State in PKI. dark

Alabama basketball will likely boast the best player on the court once again in Brandon Miller, and surrounds him with a capable supporting cast. Jahvon Quinerly is also gradually returning to form and looking more like himself every game. With a win, Bama hoops would advance to the PKI championship game.