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Layup Line: Connecticut, Again

Close match after close match for these two teams - and I expect Thursday night's contest will be no different. What's changed for each squad since their meeting 3 weeks ago?

Joe Murphy/Getty Images

You've lived through the recent battles between the Cincinnati Bearcats and Connecticut Huskies. And for UConn fans, the past year or so has been fun. Isn't it time to change that?

You probably remember their meeting a few weeks ago, so I won't harp on it. Yes, the Huskies prevailed 62-56 in a game the Bearcats absolutely controlled for many parts. The one thing I will harp on, though, is that the duo of Octavius Ellis and Gary Clark have to give the Bearcats more production in order for them to be successful on Thursday night.

  • Game: Thursday, January 29 @ 8:00pm ET
  • Location: Fifth Third Arena; Cincinnati, OH
  • TV/Radio: ESPN2; 700 WLW

Ellis finished the first meeting with 7 points and 6 boards, and Clark went for 2 and 5. Hopefully you were bracing yourself for the ups and downs that come with first-year starters like Mr. Clark. Amida Brimah did a wonderful job frustrating (for lack of a better word) Clark, and I expect Brimah to stay on Gary again.

What's changed since the last meeting:

  • The Huskies dropped two games on the road (Tulsa, Stanford) and took care of UCF and USF at home; the last two creating their current win streak.
  • Both UC and UConn have faced a lone common opponent - UCF - since the Jan 10th contest. Against them, the Bearcats won by 10 while the Huskies bested by 7. Most stats are similar - although UConn shot a little better and had a heck of a lot more assists against the Knights than UC did.
  • UC's starting lineup; senior Jermaine Sanders has provided some consistency - leading to a renewed Shaquille Thomas coming off the bench for the Bearcats latest 3 game winning streak.
  • Junior guard Farad Cobb has cooled off. Since scoring 18 against SMU at the beginning of the month, Cobb's only averaged 4 points a game (over 6 contests).

It'll be a slugfest - they always are. And I obviously like this game being at Fifth Third in front of what should be a sold out, whited-out crowd (is that a real term). In the moments following their first contest this season, I was positive UC would return the favor back in Cincinnati. And then Houston and UCF happened. And, honestly, those games weren't as bad as some are making them out to be; Bearcats do the damn thang: 59-55.