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SMU

at

UCONN

College Basketball Pick

2/25/17

This was set to be one of the bigger games in the AAC season when the schedule was set, but Connecticut hasn't lived up to that end of the bargain. The Huskies have played much better as of late, but still haven't been able to contend with the top of the conference. SMU's only conference loss came at Cincinnati and come into this with a full week off after winning at Houston last Saturday.

Outside of that two-point loss at Cincy more than a month ago, the Mustangs have brought their success to road games, highlighted by the recent two-point win in Houston. And considering how the first game went between these teams, it will be hard for anyone to back UConn. SMU went on a 23-5 run in the first half of that game and never looked back en route to a 69-49 win. They dominated in almost every phase of the game from only five turnovers to balanced production from their three best players.

But still, UConn can't be taken for granted, especially in Hartford, which is the home of the AAC tournament. The Huskies haven't lost at home in 2017, although part of that has to do with schedule, their best win coming in a three-point result over Memphis. Beating up on ECU, Tulane and USF doesn't exactly mean much.

The Huskies will need to do a lot of things differently/better in this game to have a chance and that starts with Jalen Adams (14.9 ppg, 6.6 apg). He had a lot of trouble with SMU's defense in that first game, scoring just three points on 1-of-10 shooting to go with eight assists, but also five turnovers. The size of the SMU backcourt gave him loads of trouble, whether it was Shake Milton or Jarrey Foster on the perimeter, both are 6-6. And if Adams has another bad game, UConn won't have a chance. But if Adams can reach his norms, the Huskies could at least stick around.

Surprisingly, Vance Jackson (7.4 ppg) was the only one that did something in that first game hitting five threes. Kenton Facey was somewhat effective down low with 13 points and 10 rebounds, but he also had four turnovers. Rodney Purvis had just two points and he's in the same boat as Adams. While Jackson and Facey could repeat those performances, the game comes down to what Adams and Purvis can do against the SMU guards.

On the other end of that, what UConn defense will show up? The Huskies haven't done many things well in conference play, simply average in defensive efficiency and they aren't forcing turnovers. And while Facey had some success for UConn, Ben Moore was a bit better for SMU, scoring 14 points and 13 boards. Milton did his thing scoring 23 points, while the Huskies had no answer for stretch-four Semi Ojeleye. And SMU got that big win even with less than average games from Sterling Brown and Foster. UConn is usually built upon its defense under Kevin Ollie, but against better competition that hasn't happened this season.

The Huskies are at home and will get plenty of money from the UConn faithful, but SMU has looked a step above all season. The 'Stangs are the better overall team, it's just a matter of how much playing at home means for UConn. A win here could have the Huskies hoping they run the table in the AAC tournament.

Our Pick - SMU by 4

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